Myristica fragrans originated from the Maluku islands of Indonesia, and is cultivated in most parts of Southeast Asia. It was first brought into Europe, through Constantinople in 540AD, and became popular towards the end of the 12th century. there was an increase in demand for Myristica fragrans from the 16th century onwards that led to its widespread cultivation in the West Indies, north Sulawesi, Irian Jaya, west Java, and of course in our country at Penang. The natural habitat of this fruit is the lowland tropical rainforest, with an annual rainfall of 2000-3500 mm. The crop normally grow up to an elevation of 700 m. It grows well on volcanic soil, and soil rich in organic matter.
It is a small evergreen tree, which can grow up to 20 m tall, with a bushy and cone-shaped crown. The twig are slender, and the branches are produced from the lower part of the trunk. The leaves are simple and arranged alternately. They produce an aromatic fragrance when crushed. Most of the tree are unisexual, but there are also a few hermaphrodite trees. The inflorescence is axillary, with the male inflorescence bearing many flower. The flower are aromatic, and have 3-lobed pale-yellow perianth. The tree produces an oval-shaped fruit, about 5 to 8 cm long, which splits on ripening into two halves, revealing a purplish-brown seed enveloped by the coral red mace.
The fruit is edible. The ash contains calsium, phosphorus and iron. One of the main constituent is nutmeg butter, a red-brown fat that is highly aromatic and consists of mainly trimyristin and essential oil. The essential oil has a fresh and warm spicy odour. its major compounds are monoterpene hydrocarbons, oxygenated monoterpenes and aromatic ethers.
Essential oil (5g)
Fibre (11 g)
Ash (2 g)
The shelled dried seed (nutmeg) and dried aril (mace) of Myristica fragrans is often used as spices, and as a flavouring agent in the production of pickle and sauces. The essential oil has medicinal value, and is used to treat indigestion, stomach-ache, distended stomach, rheumatism and variuous pains. In Malaysia, it is used in tonics after chilbirth. In Zanzibar, the nutmeg is chewed as an alternative to smoke marijuana. This Myristica fragrans has hallucinogenic effects due to its high content of myristicin. The essential oil is used to flavour toothpaste, soaps, shampoos and health tonics.
Mace, Nutmeg (UK)
Myristica; Nuez moscada (Uruguay, Spain)
Buah pala (Malaysia)