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Myrtus lechlerana (Miq.) Sealy

Modern name

Amomyrtus luma (Molina) D.Legrand & Kausel


Myrcia lechleriana Miq.; M. luma Barnéoud, not Mol.; Amomyrtus luma Legrand & Kausel, in part

An evergreen bushy shrub or small tree; bark pale greyish brown when first exposed; young shoots light brown, hairy. Leaves short-stalked, ovate to broad-elliptic, mucronate at the apex, rounded or broad-cuneate at the base, 58 to 1 in. long, 13 to 12 in. wide (larger on sterile shoots), copper-coloured and slightly downy on the margins and midrib beneath when young, becoming dark green, glabrous, and of a stiff, leathery texture. Flowers creamy white, borne in May four to ten together in racemose clusters from the upper leaf-axils; rachis downy, 13 to 12 in. long; pedicels 14 to 38 in. long. Calyx reddish on the inside, with triangular lobes. Petals five, concave, roundish, about 16 in. long and wide. Stamens longer than the petals, with yellow anthers. Fruits about 14 in. wide, red when young, black when ripe; seeds light brown, hard and woody. Bot. Mag., t. 9523.

Native of Chile from 36° to 46° 30′ S.; introduced by H. Comber during his Andean expedition 1925-7 under field number C.1038. The seeds collected by Comber came from plants 4 to 8 ft high, growing at Reyeguaico, in the Andes, about 35 miles S.S.E. of Lake Villarica, but the plants raised from them have grown much taller in cultivation. At Nymans in Sussex there is a four-stemmed specimen in woodland which is about 24 ft high and another, about 18 ft high, in the Walled Garden. At Trewithen in Cornwall there is a beautiful hedge of this myrtle near the house, about 25 ft high.

Flowering as it does in May, when so many trees and shrubs are in bloom, Myrtus lechlerana has not been so much planted in the milder parts as Myrtus luma, which flowers in late summer and has the additional attraction of a beautifully coloured bark. Also, its flowers are susceptible to damage by spring frosts.



Other species in the genus