The Myrtle (Latin: Myrtus communis, Catalan: Murta, Castellano: Arrayán) is also called True Myrtle. It is a prominent tree or shrub in Mediterranean woodlands where it flowers at the beginning of Summer. The white flowers, green leaves and blue berries are all very fragrant. The myrtle berry fruit is edible. Leaves can be used in the making of colognes or skin tonics. In France, an aromatic water is distilled from leaves and flowers. Leaves, berries and twigs can be employed in the flavouring of food and wines, and the leaves are said to make a good tea. The Myrtle berry (sometimes called Sweet Myrtle) can be distilled into a pleasant liqueur. The wood of the Myrtle tree is hard and is used for furniture making, in the automobile design and for art sculptures.
The Myrtle is emblematic to the Mediterranean culture. The plant occupies a prominent place in the writings of Hippocrates, Pliny, Dioscorides, Galen, and the Arabian writers. It was considered as one of the symbols of Venus and also, of Jupiter. The Myrtle was known as a symbol of love and immortality. The plant was the emblem of honour and authority in ancient Greece, where it was used as the wreaths of the Olympian victors. In the Jewish religion, the Myrtle was used in nuptial ceremonies. Kabbalists use Myrtle sprigs to draw down its harmonizing power as the week is initiated. Islamic tradition has it that the plant was amongst the pure things carried out from the Garden of Eden by Adam.
The Myrtle was used extensively in the olden days and was considered an all-important plant. The plant was used in traditional medicine and in many herbal remedies, as an astringent, an antiseptic, a decongestant and a vulnerary. The fresh, clear aroma of its oil is excellent at clearing the airways, and as it is considered safe for young and old alike, it has many uses for the working aromatherapist. It has recently been revived as a remedy for relaxation of parts with mucous and other profluvia. For internal use, an infusion should be diluted, and even then it is unpleasant to take. A much stronger infusion of the bark may be prepared. An infusion is valuable as a topical agent in catarrhal conjunctivitis, pharyngitis, and bronchitis. Anyone who has ever used it to improve a respiratory condition will sing its praises and never overlook it again.