The most characteristic plant in the Alhambra is the myrtle (Myrtus comunis). Its Spanish name, arrayán, comes from the Arabic al-rayhan, or “the aromatic one”, so-called because of the aroma given off by the essential oils in its leaves when you rub them together. It is cultivated as an ornamental species because of its fine texture, its rapid growth, its delicate, perfumed white flowers and its ability to be pruned into hedges and attractive topiary shapes. Its numerous varieties include the Moorish Myrtle, Myrtus baetica, which has larger leaves and was cited in 16th and 17th century texts and widely used in the gardens of Granada. Very few of these plants survive today in the Alhambra, some of which are hundreds of years old. The recovery of this variety is a high priority objective for the Council of the Alhambra and Generalife.