Myristica fragrans

Nota de alcance (en)

Although this tree is native of the Moluccas, it is cultivated all over the tropics. It is the source of nutmeg and mace, used as condiments. The fruit anatomy has been studied by ROTH & LINDORF 1974. The follicular fruit is unicarpellary and dehisces into 2 valves along the ventral and dorsal sutures. The mature fruit consists mainly of parenchyma. A ring of stone cells of very irregular shape develops, however, in the periphery. The outer epidermis is composed of small and thinwalled cells. Stellate hairs with two elongated apical cells crossing one another characterize the epidermis. The hairs have lignified walls. Beneath the epidermis a hypodermis, possibly with crystals of calcium oxalate, is present. Towards the inside follow several layers of stone cells. Small groups of stone cells may also occur in deeper lying tissues. Characteristic of the species are idioblasts of spherical or polygonal shape with slightly suberized walls which contain a volatile oil of yellow colour, adding fragrance to the fruit. Besides the aromatic substances, the presence of tannin can be proven with FeCl3 in the cell walls of young fruits. Later on, the tannin concentrates in special elongate and somewhat ramified cells; these cells have a light-brown content and additionally rodlike starch grains. The regular parenchyma cells, however, do not contain starch grains. In the nearly ripe fruit, small globular starch grains can only be observed in the 2 epidermal layers of the ventral suture. Small intercellular spaces may be observed in the inner epidermis. For more details see ROTH (1977) Or ROTH & LINDORF (1974). The fruits are globular or pyriform, about 3-6 em long, of a yellowish colour, slightly resembling apricots. They hang down from the tree and, when opening, contain a large single seed of brown colour which is surrounded by a red laciniate aril, the socalled mace. The seed reaches 1-4 (5) em in diameter and is very showy. Nutmeg and mace are used as condiments. The fruit flesh has a slightly sour taste. Fresh husks of ripe fruits are components of jellies, mixed pickles, preserves and sweets. The mace contains 7.5-25% essential oil (oleum myristicae) which includes the toxic myristicin besides eugenol and a variety of terpenes. It is used as a condiment for savoury dishes, meat, pickles, sausages, sauces, ketchup, pastries, pudding and beverages. The nut contains 20-30% fatty oils (myristic acid and ethereal oil). It is used in a similar way to the mace, namely as a condiment. However, larger amounts are toxic; consumption of only half a nut can lead to death. Nutmeg butter extracted from the seeds that are unfit for the spice trade is applied in ointments and candles, liniments, plasters and soaps. This fatty oil is obtained by pressing. The ethereal oil extracted by distillation from seed or mace is used in condiments, liquors, chocolate and the foodstuff industry, as well as in perfumery, cosmetic and soap manufacture. Oleum myristicae is also used in medicine as an aromatic and carminative, for dentifrices, perfumes and in the tobacco industry. In medicine, the oil is furthermore used to cure flu and diarrhoea. Besides, the nutmeg contains antoxidants. An excessive consumption of the fruit may provoke optic and acoustic hallucinations.

Seed: belly pain, diarrhea, fever, vomiting


Fruit: A piece is chewed to alleviate stomachache in Surinam.

Nota bibliográfica (en)

1) South American medicinal plants : botany, remedial properties, and general use / I. Roth, H. Lindorf. Berlin ; New York : Springer, c2002. -- p. 492.

2) Barret, Bruce Economic Botany vol. 48, nro. 1 .-- p. 8-20 1994

3) Robertt, A., et al.. Medicinal Plants of the Guianas (Guyana, Suriname, French Guyana)/Smithsonian NMNH. cited online: 17-08-2017

Myristica fragrans
Término aceptado: 29-Dic-2016