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You are in : GARDENING » Herbs & Spices » Nutmeg


 Latin Name : Myristica fragrans
 Family : Myristicaceae
 Genus : Myristica
 Common names : Nutmeg, nutmeg flower, black caraway, flower seed, black cumin, nigella seed, bishop's wort, small fennel flower

The tropical evergreen tree Nutmeg, is native to Molucca Islands of Indonesia. Now it is widely cultivated in the West Indies, South Africa, India and other tropical areas. Nutmeg and mace are different parts of the same fruit of the nutmeg tree. Both spices are strongly aromatic, resinous and warm in taste.

This aromatic tree grows to about 70 feet with numerous branches, has pointed dark green 5" long leaves that are arranged alternately and are borne on leaf stems about 1 cm long. The bark contains watery pink or red sap. Pale yellow, waxy, fleshy and bell-shaped flowers are usually single sexed; occasionally male and female flowers are found on the same tree. The reddish-yellow oval shaped fleshy fruit, when ripe splits into 2 valves revealing a purplish-brown, shiny seed (nutmeg) covered by a bright red aril (mace). The seed is about an inch long and lasts for years in its whole form.

Nutmeg is commonly used for seasoning foods. It is used mainly in sweets and mace in spicy dishes. This culinary spice is also used in perfumes and as a medicinal plant. It helps prevent gas and fermentation and is good for nausea and vomiting. Fresh fruit is used locally for preserves and pickles.  Nutmeg is available both whole and ground. 

Propagation, Planting and Harvesting :

The nutmeg tree thrives in a hot, moist climate and in well-drained soil with partial shade. Shade is required for the first two to three years. They need year-round water, but should not be kept wet, as the roots will rot.


Nutmeg is propagated through seeds. To obtain nutmegs both sexes should be planted. Male and female type trees are required for pollination and fruit set. One male is sufficient to pollinate ten to twelve females. Instead of a nutmeg male, a cocum male tree is enough to pollinate nutmegs. Dark brown seeds from fruits that have split open should be used and have to be sown as soon as possible. The soil must be enriched with mixture of well-composted manure, topsoil, and coarse sand. Germination takes between four and eight weeks. The seedlings should remain in the shade for six to eight months. The seedlings can be planted in the field at the beginning of the rainy season. Shading can be gradually removed after two to three years. 

Pruning will help to maintain flower, fruit and seed production. The trees will begin to bear fruit from around seven to nine years. Yield depends on the size and age of the tree. The yield will increase considerably and continue bearing for seventy or eighty years. The fruits are ready for harvest in about 9 months after flowering. The peak harvesting season is during June-August. The fruit of nutmeg tree, which is similar in colour and size to apricot, when ripe splits into two halves exposing a purplish-brown shiny seed surrounded by a brilliant red aril. Usually the fruits are allowed to split and fall to the ground before harvesting. 

The seeds are collected when the fruit splits. The outer fleshy portion is removed and the scarlet aril is carefully separated from the nut. Mace is flattened and both are dried separately either in the sun or by passing hot air. On drying mace becomes yellowish brown and brittle. Seeds are dried for about two months, until the kernel rattles within the shell, which is then cracked and removed. 

Mace is used to flavour milk-based sauces and is widely used in processed meats. It is also added sparingly to delicate soups and sauces with fish or seafood. Pickles or chutneys may be seasoned with mace. Nutmeg is a traditional flavouring for cakes, gingerbreads, biscuits and fruit or milk puddings. The fleshy pericarp can be used for making pickles, jams and jellies

Problems and Care :

The most threatening disease is Nutmeg Wilt, in which the plant will gradually wilt and drop leaves and fruit. There is no definitive treatment. Soil fungi will attack nutmeg trees. The main pests are borers, or bark beetles, which are small dark brown weevils about 3mm long.

Manures are applied in shallow trenches or pits dug around the plants. Pruning will help to maintain flower, fruit and seed production.

Questions of
 Questions & Answers
 1.  Posted on : 26.4.2012  By  :  Geetha , Coimbatore View Answer (0) Post Answer

Sir, I would like to grow cardamom in my home garden. Is it possible to grow in this place? Where can i get the seeds or sapling?

 2.  Posted on : 4.9.2010  By  :  Radhika , Pune, Pune View Answer (2) Post Answer

What are Burdock seeds called in India and where can i get them here in India?


Arctium lappa, commonly called greater burdock, gobō, edible burdock, lappa, ... Propagation is achieved through sowing the seeds midsummer. More :

  Posted By :Sheikh Gulzaar , Kashmir | On 16.9.2020

In marathi it is called ghagra. Burdock is a plant that is related to the daisy family. It is also closely related to Echinacea, Dandelion, and Feverfew. Burdock is an herb but it is one that has been much neglected when it comes to getting attention. Back in ancient times the Greeks used the roots, the seeds, and the greens and used them for healing purposes. Throughout the Middle Ages Burdock was used for both food and medicine. Today, Burdock is still used for such things as easing liver problems and digestive disorders. It was also found to be very effective for cleansing the skin for problems such as acne and also to assist in digestive problems. To this day throughout Europe the stalk and the greens are still eaten because they hold such valuable nutrition and vitamin values. As more and more research is being done on Burdock many new and interesting discoveries are cropping up. A relationship is being examined between Burdock and its anti fungal and anti bacterial properties, and even more important it is showing signs of possibly being able to fight against tumors and could be a cancer fighting agent as well. Research has shown that since many of the cancer causing compounds are in almost all foods which are then eaten and stored in the human fat tissues that Burdock might very well be of help in fighting cancer because of the role that it can play in depleting these mutagens. Burdock is also very helpful in strengthening the immune system when it has become weakened by environmental factors. When mixed with other herbs such as Dandelion and Ginger it can be a very powerful blood purifier. The most unique fact about Burdock is that it has a very high amount of inulin which is a natural occurring chemical within the body that mimics actions of insulin. Because of this, Burdock has been successful in helping combat hypoglycemia and pre diabetes conditions. If you look for Burdock in the market you may find it called gobo instead as that is what some refer to it as. It is often combined with other vegetables or added to Tofu. Some boil Burdock while others sautי or deep fry it. Many have said it might not be such a good idea to look at Burdock before you eat it because you might change your mind about taking a bite. It looks thick, dark, and woody but indeed the opposite is true when it comes to the taste. Burdock is well recognized as a health food because it has low calorie content and a high fiber intake. It is also loaded with potassium, iron, and calcium. People claim that Burdock tastes like nothing else. In other words it has a taste all of its own. The best description that people can agree on when it comes to the flavor of Burdock is that it is sweet yet earthy, with a tender and crisp texture. It is often added to stews, soups, and stir fries. In the form of food, Burdock is highly nutritional and full of vitamins but in retrospect Burdock is also an effective herb for bringing the body back into balance.

  Posted By :Yashashri Joshi , Thane | On 14.3.2012
 3.  Posted on : 28.3.2010  By  :  Linda , Michigan View Answer (1) Post Answer

Can a Clove tree be bonsai or grow as house plants like bay leaf or allspice?


Yes, Clove is a nice tree to plant in a house, Also you can maintain as a bonsai.

  Posted By :Rynco Orchids , trivandrum | On 17.4.2010
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