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Annonaceae, Monodora myristica, African nutmeg – Kew, England (native to W. Africa)

March 21, 2012

This interesting tree, which I photographed in the Palm House at Kew Botanical Gardens, is a member of the Annonaceae family, which includes a number of significant tropical and sub-tropical fruit trees such as Guanabana (Soursop), Kepel fruit, Atemoya and the famous aromatic Ylang-Ylang, among many others.

In English the tree is referred to as Calabash nutmeg, African nutmeg, or Jamaican nutmeg (due to its introduction into the Caribbean by way of the slave trade). Other names include, ehuru, ariwo, awerewa, ehiri, airama, African orchid nutmeg, muscadier de Calabash, and lubushi. As you can see from the photo it has a fairly spectacular flower, typically Annonaceous, but a bit more elaborate and colorful.

I couldn’t smell it because it was to high up, however it is aromatic. There were no fruit on the tree.

The species grows naturally in evergreen forests from Liberia to Nigeria and Cameroon, Angola and also Uganda and west Kenya. As its name would suggest, its seeds have been used as a nutmeg substitute although it is not related to nutmeg (Myristica fragrans). The odor and flavor of M. myristica seeds are similar to that of nutmeg and the species is commonly used in West African cuisine. The fruits are collected from wild trees and the seeds are dried and sold whole or ground to be used in stews, soups, cakes and desserts. For medicinal purposes they are used as stimulants, for headaches, sores and also as insect repellent. The seeds are also made into necklaces.

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4 Comments leave one →
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