nutmeg and mace: myristica fragrans

September 9, 2010

I just learned what fresh nutmeg looks like. Here are some visuals to aid in blowing your mind:

Myristica fragrans

myristica fragrans

myristica fragrans

myristica fragrans nutmeg seed

What you buy in the store – if it isn’t ground – is the dried seed (which is inside the brown part inside the red web). But I don’t care about the spice any more. I just want to hold the insides of that fruit. It looks like it should still be beating. I have never seen anything come off a tree that looked so alive.

The shiny red web (the aril) around the seed is mace, another spice (and favored repellent). Two-for-one, this bad boy. About 3% of the oil is toxic, which is why smart guys trying to get high on nutmeg usually come close to dying.

Takes nine years to get fruit from a seedling. And only then if you’ve got a hermaphrodite. Otherwise, you better find your lady a fella, or vice-versa, depending on which it turns out you have. Which makes this one a chancy buy. Which is unfortunately for me not enough of a deterrent. TopTropicals down in FL sells 2-3 yr old seedlings, as well as Plant it Hawaii. Both great shops.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 The Phytophactor December 8, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Nutmegs are normally dioecious, so you will need two trees, and in nutmeg cultivation the typical approach is to plant trees in 3s and cut down the excess pollen trees (more or less a 50:50 sex ratio). You can find pollen trees bearing the occasional female flower, but not enough to produce a crop.

2 rhoda June 22, 2011 at 10:58 am

The nutmeg trees here (Bali) have grown very tall and are dense with branches and leaves from about one meter from the ground until their tops (very very tall). Someone recommended that they should be trimmed from the bottom one to two meters from the ground and pruned for best results. Not only are they themselves dense but they are all quite close to each other — just two meters I’d say. They don’t get much sun except the very tops.

Is this all okay or should they be pruned. They are at least ten years old and very very tall.



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