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myrtle,common name for the Myrtaceae, a family of shrubs and trees almost entirely of tropical regions, especially in America and Australia. The family is characterized by leaves (usually evergreen) containing aromatic volatile oils. Many have showy blossoms. Although of lesser importance in the United States, the family is of considerable economic value throughout the world for timber, gums and resins, oils, spices, and edible fruits.
The true myrtle genus (Myrtus) is predominantly of the American tropics, but the classical myrtle (M. communis) is native to the Mediterranean area. It is a strongly scented bush whose glossy leaves and blue-black berries were made into wreaths for victors in the ancient Olympic games. (In America several unrelated plants are also called myrtles, e.g., the sand myrtle of the heathheath,
in botany, common name for some members of the Ericaceae, a family of chiefly evergreen shrubs with berry or capsule fruits. Plants of the heath family form the characteristic vegetation of many regions with acid soils, particularly the moors, swamps, and mountain slopes
..... Click the link for more information. family, the periwinkles of the dogbanedogbane,
common name for some members of the Apocynaceae, a family of herbs, shrubs, and trees found in most parts of the world but especially in the tropics, where they are often climbing forms. Many species are native to or naturalized in North America.
..... Click the link for more information. family, and several species of the bayberry family.) Among the many trees of the myrtle family yielding edible fruit, only the guavaguava
, small evergreen tree or shrub of the genus Psidium of the family Myrtaceae (myrtle family), native to tropical America and grown elsewhere for its ornamental flowers and edible fruit.
..... Click the link for more information. (genus Psidium), native to tropical America, is grown commercially in the United States.
The most important spice plants of the family are the cloveclove,
name for a small evergreen tree (Syzygium aromaticum or Eugenia caryophyllata) of the family Myrtaceae (myrtle family) and for its unopened flower bud, an important spice.
..... Click the link for more information. tree (Syzygium aromaticum or Eugenia caryophyllata), native to the Moluccas and the Spice Islands, and the tropical American Pimenta genus that includes the pimentopimento
common names for a tree (Pimenta dioica or P. officinalis) of the family Myrtaceae (myrtle family) cultivated in the West Indies for its dried unripe berries, used medicinally and as a spice (also called pimento or allspice).
..... Click the link for more information. or allspice (P. officinalis or dioica) and the bay rum tree (P. racemosa), source of an oil used as an ingredient of bay rumbay rum,
aromatic liquid used chiefly as a cosmetic and a perfume. It originated in the West Indies, where it was prepared by distillation from rum and bay leaves. It is now commonly a mixture of oil of bay (from a bayberry), alcohol, water, oil of pimento, and oil of orange peel.
..... Click the link for more information. . Some hardwood members of the myrtle family are among the many trees known as ironwood, e.g., Eugenia confusa, of Florida and tropical America.
Eucalyptus, a large genus of evergreen shrubs and trees, is a characteristic component of the flora in its native Australia, where it is the leafy haunt and sole food source of the koala, often associated with it in story. Among its many common names are ironbark, bloodwood, and gum tree (a name also applied to many unrelated trees). Numerous species, especially the Tasmanian blue gum (E. globulus), are now naturalized in the W United States and have become the distinctive vegetation of many California areas that were previously treeless. In Australia several species are among the tallest trees known, e.g., E. regnans, known as the mountain ash or giant ash, the tallest flowering tree, which reaches a height of over 300 ft (91 m). The generally accepted record for the tallest mountain ash is 375 ft (114,3 m), for a tree that was felled in 1881. Eucalyptus trees are a valuable source of timber, of kinos (a resinous substance used in medicines and tanning), and of eucalyptol and other essential and medicinal oils.
The myrtle family is classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
..... Click the link for more information. , class Magnoliopsida, order Myrtales.