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Sunday, 4 August 2013

Nutmeg tree (Myristica fragrans)

Nutmeg tree (Myristica fragrans) is a fruit tree belonging to the genus Myristica. The most important species of the genus Myristica is Myristica fragrans  (Nutmeg), this tree is believed to originate from Maluku (Moluccas) Islands, especially Banda Island, who is now a part of the territory of Indonesia.

Since the first, Nutmeg has become important spice and essential commodities; it is said even since the days of the Roman Empire. Nutmeg is mentioned in the "Old" a Pliny encyclopedia, that life in Roman Empire times.

European explorers are those who spread these tropical trees to other parts of Africa such as Mauritius, to Grenada in the Caribbean and several other Latin American countries.

Tree characteristics:
Nutmeg tree has a height of 4-15 meters and are unisex (dioecious), trees only produce only male or female flowers. Therefore, usually a male tree planted among 10 female trees. However, sources says that there is a tree that produces both male and female flowers,  but this is rare.

The leaves are elliptical slim. The fruit is oval shaped like a lemon, yellow, fleshy, and flavorful distinctive because it contains essential oils in the flesh. When ripe, the skin and flesh of the fruit open and the seeds will be seen draped in red mace. Each fruit produces one brown seeds.

Nutmeg trees including hardwood trees, the first harvest was 7 to 9 years after the tree has grown and reached a maximum production capacity after 25 years. Growth can reach 20m and can reach hundreds of years age.

Towering above and to the side, the tree crown tapered, pyramidal-shaped (cone), oval (cylindrical) and spherical with relatively regular branching, meeting foliage, with leaves that criss cross layout. Male flowers form somewhat different to the female flowers, although the flower color is also yellow, with a diameter of 1.5 mm and a length of ± 3 mm.

Male flowers crown, united from the base of the 5/8 sections and then divided into 3 sections. Imperfectly developed petals, shaped like a circular ring at the base of the crown.  Cylindrical stamens and a united stalk, length ± 2 mm. Stamen attached to the stalk forming lines totaling 8 pieces and pairs. Between the lines is limited by the small lane ± 1/10 mm in width.

The Fruit:

Nutmeg fruit is drupe fruit types and has different fruit shape between different trees. There is a tree that produces fruit is rounded and there is also producing a pear-shaped fruit. On the average weight is in the range of nutmeg 89 g and a diameter of about 5.6 cm.  When the fruit is ripe, the outer skin of fruit that is yellow, and has a thickness of 1.5 cm split in half and expose the purplish red shiny seeds. The seeds are covered with aryl called 'mace', the color is red and attached to the base of the seed.  When dried the cover of the seed will be brown color and strong enough. Nutmeg outer skin has sour taste when eaten directly in a fresh, but can be used as a dry or wet candied, warm spicy taste and match enjoyed in cold temperate areas. While its seeds, has a special aroma and flavor as well as being an important part of today cuisines aroma and taste.  

The core of nutmeg seed is the most wanted by peoples. This part has highest economic value and a world commodity.

More than only used to be consumed as a food, Nutmeg also produce some essentials oil that used in pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.

Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans), Ground form,Nutritional value per 100 g:
Energy 525 Kcal  26%, Carbohydrates 49.29 g 38%, Protein 5.84 g 10%, Total Fat 36.31 g 180%, Cholesterol 0 mg 0%, Dietary Fiber 20.8 g 55%, Folates  76 µg 19%, Niacin 1.299 mg 8%, Pyridoxine 0.160 mg 12%, Riboflavin 0.057 mg 4%, Thiamin 0.346 mg 29%, Vitamin-A 102 IU 3.5%, Vitamin C 3 mg 5%, Sodium 16 mg 1%, Potassium 350 mg 7.5%, Calcium 184 mg 18%,  Copper  1.027 mg 114%, Iron 3.04 mg 38%, Magnesium 183 mg 46%, Manganese 2.900 mg 126%, Phosphoru  213 mg 30% and Zinc 2.15 mg 20%. (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)

Production and economic fact:
Nutmeg powder is worldwide consumed as part of seasoning and food content.  For the it’s seed, annual production worldwide production was reached 9,000 to 12,000 tonnes.  With Indonesia and Grenada dominated its production and export market share each share 72% and 20% respectively.  The principal import markets are the European Community, the United States, Japan, and India. Singapore and the Netherlands are major re-exporters.  At the other side annual  worldwide demand is about 9000 tonnes, the supply and demand for this agro product is according to Wikipedia data is tend to supply higher than demand.

However, there is no pricing fact showing that the nutmeg price is tending to constantly down. In fact, nutmeg price was constantly raised in average. 

By steam distillation, the plant  also producing various kind of essential oil,  like d-camphene d-pinene, limonene, d-borneol, l-terpineol, geraniol, safrol, and myristicin.  Essential oil usually used in the perfumery and pharmaceutical industries. 

Scientific classification:
  • Kingdom: Plantae (Plants)
  •       Subkingdom: Tracheobionta (Vascular Plants)
  •           Super Division: Spermatophyta (Produces seeds)
  •               Division: Magnoliophyta (flowering plants)
  •                   Class: Magnoliopsida (dashed two / dicots)
  •                       Sub Class: Magnoliidae
  •                           Order: Magnoliales
  •                               Family: Myristicaceae
  •                                   Genus: Myristica
  •                                       Species: Myristica fragrans