Nutmeg: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information on nutmeg (mace)

Mace is the dried "lacy" reddish webbing or aril of the nutmeg seed from the nutmeg tree, Myristica fragrans, a member of the Myristicaceae family.

Nutmeg and mace have similar flavors, with nutmeg being slightly sweeter and mace being a more delicate flavor. Mace is often used in recipes for the bright orange, saffron-like hue it gives.

The tree from which they are produced is a small evergreen, not more than 40 feet in height, with smooth, grayish-brown bark, which is green on the younger branches. The alternate leaves are oblong-ovate, acute, entire, smooth, and dark-green. Nutmeg tree flowers are very small and unisexual.

Nutmeg tree fruit is smooth and yellow, each resemble a pear grooved by a longitudinal furrow. The fruit contains a single erect seed about 1 1/4 inch long, the nucleus of which is the wrinkled nutmeg, and the crimson, fleshy, webbed covering being the mace.

common names & nomenclature
for mace

Mace comes from the Latin maccis and French macis, both of which refer to the mace spice covering the nutmeg.

mace is also known as:
rou dou kou, macis, muscadier

common names & nomenclature
for nutmeg

The name nutmeg is from the Old French for "hard aromatic seed of the East Indies”.

nutmeg is also known as:
nux moschata, myristica officinalis, myristica aromata, myristica

Nutmeg, the warm, aromatic seasoning and spice
Nutmeg: Where in the World
habitat and range for nutmeg (mace)

Myristica fragrans is an evergreen tree indigenous to the Banda Islands in the Moluccas (or Spice Islands) of Indonesia.

Nutmeg: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations on growing and harvesting nutmeg (mace)

Nutmeg trees grow in warm, humid tropical climates in full to part sun.

Nutmeg trees prefer well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter, with a medium to heavy texture.

Propagation of nutmeg trees by seedling yields 50% male seedlings, which are unproductive. Since determining the plant sex before the sixth to eighth year is problematic, and sexual propagation bears inconsistent yields, growers conclude that grafting is the preferred method of propagation.

Epicotyl grafting, approach grafting, and patch budding have proved successful — with epicotyl grafting being the most widely adopted method. Air-layering is an alternative method, but because of its low (35-40%) success rate it is not ideal.

Mace is harvested when the nutmeg seeds are ripe; the outer red mace is separated from the nutmeg seed and dried for later use.

The scarlet color and fleshiness of mace when fresh will dry yellow and brittle.

Store dried mace powder in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.