Please donate to support our ‘Plants to Save the Planet’ Project. The Project is directed at enabling designers of ‘carbon farms’ and ‘food forests’: agroecosystems of perennial plants, to choose the most appropriate plants for their requirements and site conditions. We are working on a subset of plants in the PFAF database identified as having the most potential for inclusion in such designs. We are adding search terms and icons to those plants pages, and providing a range of search options aligned to categories of plants and crop yields, with Help facilities including videos. More >>>

Follow Us:


Myrtus communis - L.

Common Name Myrtle, Foxtail Myrtle
Family Myrtaceae
USDA hardiness 9-11
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Scrub, avoiding calcareous soils[50].
Range S. Europe to W. Asia.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Frost Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Myrtus communis Myrtle, Foxtail Myrtle
Myrtus communis Myrtle, Foxtail Myrtle


Translate this page:


Bloom Color: Pink, White. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Early fall, Late summer, Late spring, Mid summer, Mid fall, Mid spring. Form: Rounded.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Myrtus communis is an evergreen Shrub growing to 4.5 m (14ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 8 and is frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from July to August, and the seeds ripen in October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map



Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Hedge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Fruit
Edible Uses: Condiment  Drink

Fruit - raw or cooked[2, 105]. The fruit has an aromatic flavour[245], it can be eaten fresh when ripe or can be dried and is then used as an aromatic food flavouring, especially in the Middle East[7, 46, 238]. It can also be made into an acid drink[89, 148]. The fruit is about 8mm in diameter[200]. The leaves are used as a flavouring in cooked savoury dishes[238]. The dried fruits and flower buds are used to flavour sauces, syrups etc[183]. An essential oil from the leaves and twigs is used as a condiment, especially when mixed with other spices[183]. In Italy the flower buds are eaten[183]. The flowers have a sweet flavour and are used in salads[245].


Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antibiotic  Antidiarrhoeal  Antiseptic  Aromatic  Astringent  Balsamic  Carminative  Haemostatic  
TB  Tonic

The leaves are aromatic, balsamic, haemostatic and tonic[7, 46]. Recent research has revealed a substance in the plant that has an antibiotic action[7]. The active ingredients in myrtle are rapidly absorbed and give a violet-like scent to the urine within 15 minutes[238]. The plant is taken internally in the treatment of urinary infections, digestive problems, vaginal discharge, bronchial congestion, sinusitis and dry coughs[238, 254]. In India it is considered to be useful in the treatment of cerebral affections, especially epilepsy[240]. Externally, it is used in the treatment of acne (the essential oil is normally used here), wounds, gum infections and haemorrhoids[238]. The leaves are picked as required and used fresh or dried[238]. An essential oil obtained from the plant is antiseptic[240]. It contains the substance myrtol - this is used as a remedy for gingivitis[7]. The oil is used as a local application in the treatment of rheumatism[240]. The fruit is carminative[240]. It is used in the treatment of dysentery, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids, internal ulceration and rheumatism[240].


Our new book Edible Shrubs is now available.

Edible Shrubs provides detailed information, attractively presented, on over 70 shrub species. They have been selected to provide a mix of different plant sizes and growing conditions. Most provide delicious and nutritious fruit, but many also have edible leaves, seeds, flowers, stems or roots, or they yield edible or useful oil.

Read More

Edible Shrubs Book

Other Uses

Charcoal  Essential  Hedge  Hedge

The plant is very tolerant of regular clipping[200] and can be grown as a hedge in the milder parts of Britain[166, 200]. An essential oil from the bark, leaves and flowers is used in perfumery, soaps and skin-care products[89, 143, 238]. An average yield of 10g of oil is obtained from 100 kilos of leaves[7]. A perfumed water, known as "eau d'ange", is obtained from the flowers[245]. A high quality charcoal is made from the wood[89]. Wood - hard, elastic, very fine grained. Used for walking sticks, tool handles, furniture etc[46, 89].

Special Uses

Food Forest  Hedge  Hedge  Scented Plants


Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Erosion control, Foundation, Hedge, Massing, Rock garden, Standard, Superior hedge, Specimen. Succeeds in any reasonably good soil so long as it is well-drained[1]. Prefers a moderately fertile well-drained neutral to alkaline loam in a sunny position[11, 200, 238]. Succeeds in dry soils. A very ornamental plant[1], when fully dormant it is hardy to between -10 and -15°c[184], so long as it is sheltered from cold drying winds[200], though it does withstand quite considerable maritime exposure[K]. The young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. This species does not succeed outdoors in the colder parts of Britain[11, 49]. A moderately fast-growing plant when young but soon slowing with age[202]. There are a number of named varieties[183]. 'Tarentina' with narrow small leaves is hardier than the type and is especially wind-resistant[182, 200], 'Microphylla' is a dwarf form and 'Leucocarpa' has white berries[182]. Myrtle is often cultivated in the Mediterranean[7], where the plant is regarded as a symbol of love and peace[89] and is much prized for use in wedding bouquets[182]. The foliage is strongly aromatic[184]. Any pruning is best carried out in the spring[238]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Special Features: Attractive foliage, Fragrant foliage, Not North American native, Attractive flowers or blooms.


Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

Shop Now


Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and then sow it in late winter in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts[K]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 - 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Pot up in the autumn and overwinter in a cold frame. Plant out in late spring. High percentage[78]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current seasons growth, 7 - 12cm with a heel, November in a shaded and frost free frame. Plant out in late spring or early autumn. High percentage[78]. Layering.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Echte Myrte, Maile haole, Mirto, Mrca, Murta, Myrte, Periwinkle, Rihan, Tassie berry,

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Albania, Australia, Azores, Balkans, Bosnia, Canada, Chile, China, Cyprus, East Africa, Ethiopia, Europe*, Fiji, France, Greece, Hawaii, India, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kurdistan, Mediterranean*, Morocco, North Africa, North America, Pacific, Palestine, Portugal, Spain, Tanzania, Tasmania, Turkey, USA,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Amomyrtus lumaLuma, Chilean guava,Shrub7.5 0-0  LMHNDM300
Lophomyrtus bullata Shrub5.0 8-11  LMHNM20 
Lophomyrtus x ralphii Shrub5.0 8-11  LMHNM20 
Neomyrtus pedunculata Shrub6.0 -  LMHSNM10 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Print Friendly and PDF

Expert comment



Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

dusan bugarin   Sun Mar 13 18:35:10 2005

Link: Novi Sad atimikrob carceristik Myrtus communis

David Nicholls   Wed Nov 7 2007

I should have mentioned I'm in a cool climate (Wellington, New Zealand) I've heard of Rosemary emiting much more fragrance in hotter climates, maybe that's the problem

simona liliana kovacs   Wed Mar 15 2006

Thank you for the great information. Would have been interesting with some pictures and even receipts. However, best information still.

Tony Lake   Mon Aug 28 2006

This is a helpful page but the text "The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. "The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils." Seems to cover all angles if those types are preferred what remains?

david nicholls   Wed Nov 7 2007

I just got a very young Myrtus communis, the leaves seem to have little or no fragrance, I added some leaves to a roast, no obvious flavor change(as many books would tell you to expect). I thought maybe the fragrance doesn't develop until they are older. Anyone know? Is there anyone out there who finds the flavor and fragrance strong?

satis singh   Thu Sep 17 2009

please send photograph

QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.

2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.

3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the website on their phone.

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Myrtus communis  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Some information cannot be used for commercial reasons or be modified (but some can). Please view the copyright link for more information.
Web Design & Management