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Myrtus ugni Mol.

Murtillo, Uñi

Modern name

Ugni molinae Turcz.


Ugni molinae Turcz.; Eugenia ugni (Mol.) Hook. f.

A shrub usually under 5-6 ft high; young stems hairy. Leaves glabrous, mostly ovate or oblong-ovate, 34 to 1 in. long, acute and apiculate at the apex, darkish green above, paler beneath. Flowers fragrant, solitary, borne in May on stalks up to 1 in. long from the leaf-axils of the young shoots. Sepals linear, pointed, reflexed. Corolla cup-shaped, with five rose-tinted, rounded, concave petals. Stamens included. Fruits globular, dark reddish brown when ripe, with a mealy flesh.

Native of the forest region of Chile, where it grows in woodland and scrub; introduced by William Lobb in 1844. It is quite hardy in the Atlantic zone, where it is sometimes used for dwarf hedges or grown for its delicious fruits, which taste of wild strawberries. Indeed, it is hardy in the open at least as far east as Furzey in the New Forest and should survive most winters south of London with the protection of a wall. It is easily propagated by cuttings, and flowers and fruits when quite young. There is a white variegated form in commerce.

This is the species on which the Russian botanist Turczaninow founded the genus Ugni, which he characterised by the sepals being reflexed in bud, the stamens with strap-shaped filaments which are continuous with the connective, and the embryo like that of Eugenia. However, as Asa Gray pointed out, there is some mistake about the last character, for the embryo is in fact that of Myrtus, and to that genus he referred Ugni as a section. Other characters of the group are the small leathery leaves, the flowers solitary in the leaf-axils on well-developed pedicels, and the two linear bracteoles close to the flower being persistent in fruit.



Other species in the genus