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Any of the evergreen shrubs in the genus Myrtus (family Myrtaceae). Authorities differ widely over the number of species included; most occur in South America, while some are found in Australia and New Zealand. Common myrtle (M. communis) is native to the Mediterranean and the Middle East and is cultivated in southern England and the warmer portions of North America. Other plants known as myrtle include the mountain laurel and periwinkle. The family Myrtaceae, commonly called the myrtle family, includes the plants that produce the spices allspice and cloves, and the genus Eucalyptus. See alsocrape myrtle.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on myrtle, visit Britannica.com.