One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1An evergreen shrub which has glossy aromatic foliage and white flowers followed by purple-black oval berries.
Myrtus communis, family Myrtaceae (the myrtle family). This family also includes several aromatic plants (clove, allspice) and many characteristic Australian plants (eucalyptus trees, bottlebrushes)
- ‘Between the ruins grew cypresses and oleanders, hibiscus, myrtle and wild roses.’
- ‘When growing Mediterranean herbs, such as myrtle or bay, in containers, it is best to use a soil-based compost with extra grit.’
- ‘When I moved into my bungalow about 20 years ago, I inherited a shrub which I was given to understand is a myrtle: it is a bushy evergreen with small, dark green, glossy, pointed leaves.’
- ‘Within its protective cover, he built gleaming palaces and gardens perfumed with roses, jasmine and myrtle.’
- ‘A heady, often impenetrable mix of shrubs, herbs and wild flowers, such as lavender, myrtle, marjoram and thyme, its elusive scent permeates everything from the wine to the honey.’
2North American The lesser periwinkle.
Vinca minor, family Apocynaceae. See periwinkle
- ‘If you were daring, you might plant myrtle (periwinkle).’
Late Middle English: from medieval Latin myrtilla, myrtillus, diminutive of Latin myrta, myrtus, from Greek murtos.
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