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Myrtle (Myrtus communis L.)

Synonyms

pharmaceuticalFolia Myrti
AlbanianMersinë e rëndomtë, Cimartë, Mërçelë, Mërsina
Amharicአደስ
Addus
Arabicآس; ريحان, مورد, رند, مرسين
رَيْحَان, رَنْد
As, Hadass, Rand, Murd; Raihan (North Africa only)
Aramaicܐܣ, ܒܪܬ݂ ܐܣܐ, ܗܕܣ
As, Bath Asa, Hadas
ArmenianՄրտենի, Մրտի, Մուրտ
Mrdeni, Mrdi, Mrteni, Mrti, Murt
BelarusianМірт
Mirt
Bengaliমেহেদি
Mehedi?
BretonMeurta
BulgarianМирта
Mirta
CatalanMurta, Murtera, Murtra
Chinese
(Cantonese)
香桃木 [hēung tóu muhk]
Heong tou muhk
Chinese
(Mandarin)
桃金娘 [táo jīn niáng], 香桃木 [xiāng táo mù]
Tao jin niang, Xiang tao mu
CroatianMirta, Mrtvina
CzechMyrta, Myrta obecná
DanishMyrte
DutchMirte, Mirt
EsperantoMirto, Ordinara mirto
EstonianHarilik mülrt
Farsiمورد
Moord
FinnishMyrtti
FrenchMyrte (commun)
GaelicMiortal
GalicianMirto
Georgianმირტი
Mirti
GermanMyrte, Brautmyrte
GreekΜυρτιά
Mirtia, Myrtia
Greek (Old)Μύρτος, Μυρσίνη
Myrtos, Myrsine
Gujaratiહિના
Hina
Hebrewהדס
הֲדַס
Hadas
Hindiविलायती मेंहदी, हिना
Vilayati menhadi, Hina
Hungarian Mirtusz
ItalianMirto
Japaneseギンバイカ, マートル
Ginbaika, Gimbaika, Matoru
Korean머틀
Meotul, Motul
LatinMurta, Myrta, Baca myrtæ
LatvianMirtes
LithuanianTikroji mirta
MacedonianМирта
Mirta
MalteseRiħan
PolishMirt pospolity
PortugueseMurta; Mirto (Brazil)
ProvençalNerto
RomanianMirt
RussianМырт
Myrt
SanskritBola
SerbianМирта, Мрча
Mirta, Mrča
SlovakMyrta obyčajná, Myrta
SlovenianMirta
SpanishArrayán, Mirto
SwedishMyrten
Tamilகுழிநாவல்
Kulinaval, Kuzhinaval
Thaiน้ำมันเขียว
Namman khieo
TurkishMersin, Murt, Bahar, Sazak
UkrainianМирт
Myrt
Urduولائتی مہندی
Habulas, Vilaiti mehandi
VietnameseCây sim
Cay sim
WelshMyrtwydden
Yiddishהדס, מירד
Hodes, Mirt
Myrtus communis: Myrtle branch with flowers
Myrtle branch with flowers

www.desert-tropicals.com

Myrtus communis: Myrtle flower
Myrtle flower
Used plant part

Around the Medi­terra­nean, mostly the fresh or dried leaves are used; the dried berry fruits are also aromatic and have been tried as a substitute for black pepper.

Plant family

Myrtaceae (myrtle family)

Sensory quality 

The leaves exemanate an aromatic and re­freshing smell some­what reminis­cent to myrrh or eucalypt; the taste is very inten­sive, quite dis­agree­able and strongly bitter.

Main constituents

The most important constituents of myrtle oil (up to 0.8% in the leaves) are myrtenol, myrtenol acetate, limonene (23%), linalool (20%), pinene (14%), cineol (11%), furthermore, p-cymene, geraniol, nerol and the phenylpropanoid, methyleugenol. There is considerable variability in the composition of oil from different locations.

Origin

The plant grows abundantly in the North Western to Eastern Mediterranean; its multiple occurrences in the Old Testament testifies its significance to West Asian peoples (see also pomegranate).

Myrtus communis: Myrtle shrub with flowers
Myrtle flowers
Myrtus communis: Myrtle flower
Myrtle flower

www.botanikus.de

Etymology

Myrtle has closely related names in most European and even some non-European languages; besides English myrtle, we have German Myrte, Estonian mürt, Spanish mirto, Scottisch Gaelic miortal, Modern Greek mirtia [μυρτιά], Russian myrt [мырт], Armenian mrdeni [մրտենի] and Farsi mourd [مورد]. All these names relate to Old Greek myrtos [μύρτος] or myrsine [μυρσίνη] and were typically transmitted via Latin myrtus. The Greek term entered the language probably as a Semitic loan; see also nutmeg.

Besides the Greco-Latin mirto, Spanish has another term for myrtle, which is of Arabic origin: Arrayán is a medieval loan from Andalusian Arabic ar-raihan [الريحان] the myrtle; this term is still valid in modern Arabic, but in the Arabic-speaking countries of the Eastern Mediterranean and of Asia, it has changed its meaning to basil, while the denotation myrtle is conserved only in North African Arabic; cf also Maltese riħan myrtle. Raihan derives from the Arabic noun rih [ريح] odour. See also caper for Arabic loanwords in Iberic languages.

Selected Links

chemikalienlexikon.de: Linalool Die Myrte (Jens Rathke)


Myrtus communis: Myrtle shrub
Myrtle plants with flowers
Myrtle is another example of a spice finding no wide appli­cation because of its bitter­ness (see zedoary), despite the pleasant odour. Its culinary im­portance is limited to the region of origin: The fragrant macchia forests on the mountain slopes around the Mediterranean Sea.

Myrtle is a perfect firewood, transmitting a spicy, aromatic taste to any meat grilled thereover. Furthermore, meat or poultry may be wrapped with myrtle branches or the body cavities may be stuffed therewith; after broiling or roasting, the myrtle is to be removed. Foods flavoured with the smoke of myrtle are common in rural areas of Italy or Sardinia; rosemary may serve as a substitute. Interestingly, the same technique is also known in the Caribbean, where allspice leaves are employed for virtually the same purposes.

Dried myrtle leaves are readily available in most Western countries; any food broiled over charcoal may be flavoured simply by repeatedly sprinkling a handful of the leaves over the glowing coal. Rosemary, thyme and other robust herbs (even eucalypt) may also be tried.



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