Myr"tle (?), n. [F. myrtil bilberry, prop., a little myrtle, from myrte myrtle, L. myrtus, murtus, Gr. ; cf. Per. mrd.] Bot.

A species of the genus Myrtus, especially Myrtus communis. The common myrtle has a shrubby, upright stem, eight or ten feet high. Its branches form a close, full head, thickly covered with ovate or lanceolate evergreen leaves. It has solitary axillary white or rosy flowers, followed by black several-seeded berries. The ancients considered it sacred to Venus. The flowers, leaves, and berries are used variously in perfumery and as a condiment, and the beautifully mottled wood is used in turning.

⇒ The name is also popularly but wrongly applied in America to two creeping plants, the blue-flowered periwinkle and the yellow-flowered moneywort. In the West Indies several myrtaceous shrubs are called myrtle.

Bog myrtle, the sweet gale. -- Crape myrtle. See under Crape. -- Myrtle warbler Zool., a North American wood warbler (Dendroica coronata); -- called also myrtle bird, yellow-rumped warbler, and yellow-crowned warbler. -- Myrtle wax. Bot. See Bayberry tallow, under Bayberry. -- Sand myrtle, a low, branching evergreen shrub (Leiophyllum buxifolium), growing in New Jersey and southward. -- Wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera). See Bayberry.


© Webster 1913.

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