Monday, 28 January 2013

Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)

Commonly known as Nutmeg, this tree originated from Moluccas and Spice Islands of Indonesia.

The Nutmeg Tree is a medium-sized evergreen tree about 5 to 10m tall. It has a smooth bark that is greyish-brown in colour. The branches spread out in whorls, carrying with them alternate leaves about  4 to 6 inches long on 1inch petioles. The aromatic leaves are elliptical in shape, dark green and glossy on the upper surface and paler on the underside. Flowers are small and dioecious, and borne in axillary racemes. 

The fruits are a pendulous, globose drupe consisting of a succulent pericarp.  When the fruit is mature, it splits into two to expose a crimson-coloured edible pulp surrounding a single seed. Nutmeg refers to the seed of the tree. The seed is egg-shaped about about 2 to 3cm long and has bright scarlet arils surrounding it. These arils are called mace and and is also a valuable spice. The red mace turns brittle and yellowish-brown when dry. Nutmegs have a strong, musky, characteristic aroma. 

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