|Etymology||Genus||From Greek word Muron; an essential oil distilled from the plant|
|Species||Fragrant; the leaves give off a fragrant smell when crushed|
|Synonyms||Myristica aromatica Lam.|
|Status||Exotic: Cultivated Only|
|Native Distribution||Moluccas Islands|
Myristica fragrans was introduced to Singapore by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles in 1802, and were planted at the foot of Government Hill (now Fort Canning Hill) to experiment its cultivation for spice trade (Wheatley, 1954). A craze for nutmeg soon started, and by 1848, there were about 56,000 trees in 24 plantations covering an area of 480 ha (Ridley, 1897; Wikkramatileke, 1965). However, in 1859, a disease from a beetle spread from Malaysia to Singapore and wiped out most of the trees (Burkill, 1966). Presently, Nutmeg trees can only be found sparingly in several parks, including the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
The fleshly fruit wall of the is the commercial nutmeg sold as a sweetmeat (Rao, 1989). The red aril which envelops the seed is known as the mace and the black seed, also known as the nutmeg are both used as a spice.
The small, pale yellow, and globular flowers are unisexual. A study of the floral biology of Myristica fragrans in India found that it is visited by a species of beetle, Formicomus braminus (Armstrong & Drummond, 1986). Pollination occurs when the beetles collected the pollen from the male flower and mistakenly enter a female one thinking that it is a male one, thus unwittingly depositing the pollen.
The form of the Nutmeg tree.
Primary branching radiates at tiers of about 45°.
Leaves are shiny with a distinct tip.
Clusters of male flowers.
The sepal is peeled off to show the female flower part.
The male flower showing the stamens fused into a column.
The fruit of the nutmeg, splitting slightly to reveal the mace.