The New Student's Reference Work/Myrtle
Myr′tle, a beautiful evergreen shrub or moderate-sized tree, with glossy leaves, black berries, having a pleasant, spicy odor and white flowers. This is the common myrtle, which is native to the countries of the Mediterranean. Among the ancient Greeks the myrtle was sacred to Venus as the symbol of youth and beauty. Victors in the Olympian games were crowned with wreaths of its leaves. It was frequently used at festivals, has frequent mention in poetry, and reference is made to it in the Bible. The Greeks used myrtle for their dead, the German maiden wears it on her wedding-day. In the United States the classic myrtle and other species are successfully grown as outdoor shrubs in California and the south. The myrtle of Peru and Chile has red berries and comparatively small leaves. The berries have a pleasant flavor and are eaten. The periwinkle, which is a very common running plant in the United States, is often improperly called myrtle.