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Myrtus communis


Myrtus communis Linn.

Family Name: Myrtaceae
Synonyms: Myrtus communis var. tarentina, Myrtus communis var. romana
Common Name: Common Myrtle, Sweet Myrtle, True Myrtle, 香桃木


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Shrubby (1m-5m)), Shrub
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Rounded
Maximum Height 2.5 m to 5.0 m
Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width 3.0 m to 5.0 m


Native Distribution Mediterranean - northern Africa, western Asia, southeastern Europe
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Grassland / Savannah/ Scrubland)
Preferred Climate Zone Mediterranean

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Dense rounded shrub or small tree, up to 2.5-5.0m tall and wide, pendent when old.
Foliage Leaves glossy dark green, up to 5cm across, aromatic when crushed or brushed against.
Flowers Prominent, produced singly from leaf axils, 3cm across, strongly fragrant, 5 big white petals with many stamens topped with yellow anthers, powerpuff appearance, pollinated by bees and other insects.
Fruits Small purplish-red to bluish-red berries with scented pulp, 1cm across, containing several seeds, eaten and dispersed by birds.
Habitat Native to dry Mediterranean regions.
Cultivation Highly drought-tolerant. Likes well-drained soils. Let soil dry out before watering to avoid leaf-tip chlorosis. Propagate by seeds, semi-hardwood stem cuttings or air-layering.
Etymology Genus epithet 'Myrtus' derived from Greek name for myrtle. Species epithet 'communis' means 'common' or 'growing in groups'.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Fruits, Edible Leaves, Edible Flowers)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable;Herb and Spice)
[Others]: Cultural: Plant has long history of cultivation and use. Symbol of love and peace in the Mediterranean, and associated with mythological Greek goddess Aphrodite and Demeter. Culinary: Leaves substitute for rosemary and bay leaves, and used to flavour cooked dishes. Fresh flowers, buds and fruits can be eaten raw in salads. Dried flowers and fruits used as aromatic flavouring for sauces and syrups. Fruits eaten to sweeten breath. Fruits and leaves used to produce Mirto, an aromatic liqueur and national drink of Sardinia. Wood used as high-quality charcoal to impart spicy aromatic taste to grilled food. Medicinal: Leaves contain antiseptic and antibiotic properties, used fresh or dried to treat urinary and chest infections, acne, wounds, gingivitis and dysentery. Products: Essential oils can be extracted from leaves, twigs and flowers to make condiments, perfumes and soaps. Hair dye obtained from fruits. Cut Flower: Leaves and flowers popularly used in wedding bouquets in the Mediterranean. Timber: Wood used to make tool handles, walking sticks and furniture.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Fragrant (Flowers, Foliage, Fruits, Stems) (Day, Time Independent)
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Easy to Grow, Dry Soils / Drought, Well-Drained Soils, Alkaline high pH Soils
Landscape Uses Bonsai, Flowerbed / Border, Hedge / Screening, Container Planting
Thematic Landscaping Moonlight Garden, Fragrant / Aromatherapy Garden

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Bee))

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun, Semi-Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water, Little Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Pruning Can be lightly clipped to shape into bonsai, or hard-pruned for hedge.
Diseases Leaves prone to tip chlorosis, if plant is overwatered or grown in poorly-drained soils.
Pest(s) Associated with
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting, Air-Layering
Maintenance Requirements Remarks Allow soil to dry out between watering.
Propagation Method Remarks Pre-soak seeds in warm water for 24 hours before sowing. Use semi-hardwood stem cuttings.


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Glossy / Shiny
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Lanceolate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acuminate
Foliar Base Cuneate
Typical Foliar Area Microphyll ( 2.25cm2 - 20.25 cm2 )
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) White
Flower Symmetry Radial
Flower Size - Remarks 2cm across
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Blue, Purple
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Fleshy Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Berry

Image Repository



Master ID 29121
Species ID 3430
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 15 February 2022.