Myristica fragrans

Common Name: nutmeg 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Myristicaceae
Native Range: Asia, Australasia, Indonesia
Zone: 11 to 12
Height: 10.00 to 30.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Creamy white to pale yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Fragrant, Insignificant
Leaf: Fragrant, Evergreen
Fruit: Showy


Best grown in evenly moist, well-draining, rich, sandy loams with plenty of organic matter. Intolerant of overly wet, waterlogged soils. Site in an area protected from persistent, strong winds. Young plants benefit from shading but this can be gradually removed until mature plants are in full sun to part shade. Propagate through seed or air layering. Seeds have a short period of viability and must be planted soon after harvest. Hardy in tropical Zones 11-12.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Myristica fragrans, commonly called nutmeg or mace, is a small, aromatic, evergreen tree native to the Maluku Islands of eastern Indonesia but widely cultivated throughout the tropics. Mature plants will reach around 30' tall with a 20' wide, upright canopy of tiered branches. The leathery, elliptic, aromatic leaves will reach around 2-5" long and 1-3" wide. The flowers are small, creamy white to pale yellow, fragrant, and bloom at night. This plant is incompletely dioecious, meaning that male and female flowers can be borne on separate plants, but some individuals will be monecious (having both male and female flowers on the same plant). The male flowers typically bloom in clusters of 4-8 while while the female flowers are usually solitary. The rounded to pear-shaped fruits are yellow to pale orange and reach up to 2" in diameter. The fruits have a fleshy husk surrounding a solitary seed. The glossy, dark brown seeds are surrounded by a bright red aril. The aril is the source of the culinary spice mace. After the aril is removed, the seeds can be dried and their hard outer seed coat removed. The inner kernel is the culinary spice nutmeg.

The genus name Myristica comes from the Greek meaning "myrrh-scented", in reference to the fragrant seeds and arils of the nutmeg plant.

The specific epithet fragrans means "fragrant", in reference to the aromatic qualities of this species.

The common name nutmeg comes from the Old French nois muscade with roots in the Latin nux meaning "nut" and muscada meaning "musky".


Susceptible to a number of diseases including diplodia tip blight, fruit rot, and fungal shot hole. Scale insects can be problematic.


Accent specimen for tropical gardens. Can be grown in greenhouses in colder climates. Requires hot and humid growing conditions. Ground nutmeg and mace are used to flavor a variety of baked goods, confections, custards, beverages and savory dishes. Essential oil extracted from the seeds and arils as well as the bark, flowers, and leaves is used as a fragrance in soaps and perfumes. This plant has a variety of traditional medicinal applications, including as an anti-inflammatory, the treatment of digestive issues, and as an aphrodisiac. However, consuming large amounts can be toxic.