Typical of the forests of central and southern Chile, murta is a small red or white berry that grows in autumn on evergreen bushes that reach heights of 4 metres with oval dark green shiny leaves and a spicy and aromatic perfume.
This fruit, with a sugary and yet slightly bitter taste, is part of the gastronomic culture of the Mapuche community who mainly eat the fruits and wild herbs of the forests.
The Mapuche consume the berry raw or use it to make jams, juices and mistela de murta (also called murtado or licor de murta), an alcoholic drink common in Chile since the Colonial Period. It is produced with various fruits, depending on availability, and is consumed at the end of the meal with the dessert. The fruit is left to soften in alcohol, such as aguardiente, sugar or syrup for a few weeks and then blended with a mixture of grape must and alcohol.
Murta is at risk of extinction due to unrestrained deforestation connected with intensive agriculture and the disappearance of the natural habitat.