The nutmeg tree is a large evergreen native to the Moluccas (the Spice Islands) and is now cultivated in the West Indies. It produces two spices — mace and nutmeg. Nutmeg is the seed kernel inside the fruit and mace is the lacy covering (aril) on the kernel. A large tropical evergreen is growing on average to 12 m (40 ft) and reaching as high as 20 m (66 ft). The bark is a dark grey-green which produces a yellow juice which oxidizes to red. It is thickly branched with dense foliage with tough, dark green, oval leaves about 10 cm (4 in) long. The trees are dioecious, meaning it has separate male and female plants, both being required for fertilization. It has small, light yellow bell-shaped flowers. The pale yellow fruit is a drupe, grooved like an apricot, splitting along the groove when ripe to expel the seed.
It prefers the rich volcanic soils and hot, humid conditions of the tropics. Nutmegs are propagated by seeds in nursery beds, and after about six months they are transplanted to the plantation. It takes five years for the trees to flower so that the sex can be determined and the males can be thinned out, leaving the optimum situation of one male for every ten females. Full bearing occurs after 15 years, and the trees continue to bear fruit for about fifty years. A single mature tree produces up to 2,000 nutmegs per year. The fruit is often collected with a long pole with a basket attached (resembling a lacrosse stick), to pick the fruit from this trees. In Indonesia, this is called a gai gai. When the fruit is harvested the seed is removed, then the mace from the seed. The mace is flattened between boards and the seeds dried until they rattle, when they are shelled.
Nutmeg - The EpicentreThe Epicentre, http://theepicentre.com/spice/nutmeg/ (accessed January 24, 2017).