Gardening
in Tucson, Phoenix,
Arizona and California

Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix, Arizona and California

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Myrtus communis: Common Myrtle

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Description
Form: Shrub or small tree.
Lifespan: 25-50 years.
Leaf retention: Evergreen.
Growth rate: Slow to moderate.
Mature Size: 14' high and 9' wide.
Flowers: White, five petals, white with yellow-tip stamens, sweetly fragrant. Flowers and buds are edible.
Bloom: Spring. Dwarf types may also bloom in fall, but flowers and buds will be killed by first frost.
Fruit: Blue-black, several seeds, edible. A cultivar with amber-yellow fruit exists. Drops from stem after becoming ripe. May stain concrete, brick or stone.
Leaves: Green, lance-shaped, smooth edges, aromatic when bruised or crushed, edible.
Stems: No thorns.
Roots: No surface roots.
Wildlife: Attracts bees, possibly butterflies, berries attract birds.
Toxic / Danger: No.
Origin: Mediterranean, Middle East.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 8-10.
Sunset climate zones: 8-24.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun.
Water after becoming established: Deep water once a month. Soil must dry out between waterings.
Soil: Well drained, low in organic content, pH 6.1-8.3 (slightly acidic to somewhat alkaline). Prone to root rot in wet soil. Saline tolerant.
Mulch: 1-2" to reduce moisture loss in summer.
Planting: Dwarf cultivars will grow in containers.
Prune: In first two years, prune to determine overall plant structure. Trim after fruit has dropped in following years to encourage leaf density. Tolerant of frequent clipping. Used for topiary.
Litter: Low.
Propagation: Pre-soaked seed, cuttings.
Uses: Ornamental, hedge, edible spice. Berries, eaten raw, are said to taste like a slightly bitter Juniper berry crossed with Rosemary. When used dried and whole, the berries add a peppery note to cooked foods. Leaves are used in savory cooked dishes. Flowers are added to salads.

Comments
A member of the Myrtle family. A dwarf cultivar is shown.



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Myrtus communis: Common Myrtle - flower

Myrtus communis: Common Myrtle - berries

Myrtus communis: Common Myrtle