Myrtle is undoubtedly the most characteristic plant of the Alhambra and Generalife; the Spanish word for myrtle is arrayán which comes from Arabic al-rayhan, “the aromaticone”, in reference to the scent which the leaves give off when they are rubbed. Its intense use and cultivation as an ornamental species is due to its fine texture, its relatively fast growth, its delicate and fragrant whitish flowers, and how well it can be pruned into hedges and other topiary shapes.
There are numerous varieties and cultivars, but the so-called “Moorish myrtle”, which has bigger and crinkled leaves, is of particular significance. It was mentioned in XVIth and XVIIth century texts and was widely used in landscaped areas of Granada. Nowadays, there are only a few specimens left in the monumental complex, some of which are centuries old. At present, it is a priority of the Patronato of the Alhambra and Generalife to study, recover and multiply this species.