The myrtle family belongs to the genus myrtle (lat.Myrtus), which has 20-40 plant species. In nature, this plant grows on almost all continents - in West Africa, in the state of Florida in the USA, in North America and off the Mediterranean coast in Europe.
Traces of the appearance of a mole rat are noticeable on the hills and dried plants, the tubers of which the rodent ate. The mammal constructs labyrinths at a depth of 0.25 - 0.85 m. It crawls along underground tunnels. Having accidentally found himself on the surface of the earth, he gets lost, tries to hide under the ground. Early morning and late evening are the times of the greatest activity of the beast. With an increase in temperature from + 28 ℃ and a sharp decrease from + 12 ℃ and below, activity decreases.
In the spring, the mole rat begins to create new passages. In summer it moves along them for food. In the fall, work continues: the animal enlarges the passages on the lower floors in order to expand supplies. At this time, the soil does not push out to the surface. At the end of autumn, rodents move to the forest belt: under a large layer of snow, the ground freezes less. In winter, the mole rat does not sleep, but the activity decreases.
In many ways, the cult of myrtle is associated with its healing properties. Even in Ancient Greece, women washed their face with infusion on myrtle leaves, believing that this would preserve their beauty and youth. Myrtle tinctures have been used to treat ulcers, upper respiratory tract and genitourinary tract, diarrhea and burns. In ancient Egypt and India, it was used to treat nervous diseases, up to epilepsy. In the Middle East, myrtle has long been included in the herbal collection that helps with diabetes.
Today, the balsamic, hemostatic and tonic effect of myrtle leaves has been confirmed, and recently the substance myrtol, which has antiseptic properties, has been isolated from them.
Studies have shown that myrtle contains tannins, flavonoids and essential oils, which explains its medicinal properties. Essential oils, released from myrtle leaves into the environment, have great antimicrobial activity. It has been established that the presence of a myrtle tree in a room sharply reduces the concentration of pathogenic and opportunistic microorganisms in the air, therefore, myrtle is recommended for keeping in children's and medical institutions.
Myrtle essential oil is used for the treatment of diseases of the nose and throat for colds, for the treatment of stomatitis, wounds, hemorrhoids, for rubbing with rheumatism. Ointment with myrtle oil is used to treat herpes, research is being conducted on the treatment of stomach ulcers and diabetes mellitus with myrtle extracts.
The essential oil is retained in the leaves when dried. 10 g of oil is produced from 100 kg of foliage. The essential oil from bark, leaves and flowers is widely used in the manufacture of soaps, skin care products, and perfumery. The famous fragrant water "Eau d'Ange" is obtained from myrtle flowers.
The durable, fine-grained wood of large myrtles is highly prized and used in the manufacture of walking sticks, tool handles and furniture. It makes good charcoal. It is very fragrant, so a barbecue cooked on myrtle wood has a wonderful aroma.
Myrtle is also used in cooking. Seasoning is prepared from the leaves, the berries are used raw and boiled. They make a good addition to grilled pork. In Italy, buds and flowers, which have a sweet taste, are used in salads. In the Middle East, dried berries are used as a seasoning, and fresh ones are used to make a sour drink. They are also used to flavor sauces and syrups, in gin infusions instead of juniper berries. In Italy, a liqueur called "Mirto Rosso", infused with berries, and "Mirto Bianco", infused with myrtle leaves, have long been produced.
In outdoor gardening, the plant is mainly used to create beautiful trimmed hedges or topiary figures. It is now very popular and is grown outdoors wherever the climate permits. Attempts were made to grow myrtle trees in the Nikitsky Botanical Garden, but in severe frosty winters they freeze out there.
In cold countries, myrtle is kept as a tub or pot culture, grown in the form of a standard tree or a dense bush. Myrtles are supplied to the world flower market mainly by Israeli gardeners; there are nurseries in Italy.
About the assortment and cultivation of myrtle - in the article Indoor myrtle: care and varieties