The ripe seeds deprived of arillus and seed-coats - the kernel.
Habitat. Molucca Islands; cultivated in tropics, India, Philippine Islands, Amboyna, Boura, New Guinea, E. Indies, W. Indies, S. America, Ceylon, Sumatra, Java, etc.
Syn. Myrist., Nutmeg, Round Nutmeg; Fr. Muscade des Moluques, Noix Muscade, Nux Muschata, Nuces Nucistae; Ger. Semen Myristicae, Muskatnuss, Myristicasamen.
My-ris'ti-ca. L. see etymology, above, of Myristicaceae.
Fra'grans. L. fragran(t)s, sweet-scented - i. e., from its fragrant odor.
Nut'-meg. OE, nut + muge, musk, corrupted into meg - i. e., from its odor.
Plant. - Evergreen tree 7.5-15 M. (25-50°) high, much branched, bark brownish-gray, smooth, young branches green; leaves leathery, smooth, entire, 10-15 Cm. (4-6') long, acute at both ends, prominently veined, dark green; flowers dioecious, small, yellow; fruit pendulous, smooth, yellow, 7.5 Cm. (3') long, 5 Cm. (2') wide, resembling a peach, but grooved by a longitudinal furrow, pericarp, 12 Mm. (1/2' thick, tough, fleshy, with astringent juice, yellowish-white, dehiscing from above along the furrow into 2 equal valves that become dry and coriaceous when ripe, and from between which readily falls out the erect, blunt, single seed closely enveloped, reticulately furrowed and almost completely covered by an irregularly cut fleshy arillus (mace); when deprived of this latter the seed-testa is dark brown, hard, thick, smooth, shining, woody; inner seed-coat thin, membranous, pale brown. Kernel (myristica, nutmeg), ovoid, ellipsoidal, 20-30 Mm. (4/5-1 1/5') long, 15-20 Mm. (3/5-4/5') thick, light brown, reticulately furrowed from the tightly oppressed arillus, broad end with large circular, upraised scar from which arises a furrow extending to the chalaza; easily cut, surface having waxy lustre, mottled from light brown peri-sperm penetrating into the yellowish-brown endosperm; longitudinal section through endosperm above large scar shows cavity with shrunken remains of embryo and usually with a growth of mold; odor and taste agreeably aromatic. Powder, reddish-brown; microscopically - fragments of perisperm with oil reservoirs containing volatile oil, parenchyma cells filled with aleurone and starch grains, .003-.02 Mm. (1/8325-1/1250) broad - blue with iodine T. S., whereas starch in mace - yellowish-red; occasional tracheae; mounts in hydrated chloral T. S. - shows numerous globules of fixed oil, which may separate in rod-like crystals; mounts in fixed oil - show separated aggregates of crystals which strongly polarize light; powder from "limed" nutmegs under microscope, upon adding water containing 25 p. c. of sulphuric acid - show separation of calcium sulphate crystals (needles, short rods) which do not polarize light. Some accept the hard testa and kernel as the seed, like peach seed, but the U. S. P. recognizes solely the kernel or nucleus, that central part left after the fleshy portion, arillus, and hard testa have been removed. Those that are broken, of light weight, feeble odor and taste, musty, wormy and black-veined should be rejected. Should be kept in tightly-closed containers, adding occasionally a few drops of chloroform or carbon tetrachloride to prevent insect attack. Solvents: alcohol; ether. Dose, gr. 5-20 (.3-1.3 Gm.).
Fig. 111. - Myristica fragrans: twig with the fruit.
Fig. 112. - Nutmeg, with mace, and transverse section.
Fig. 113. - Wild nutmeg, with mace.
Adulterations. - Kernels: Rare - those punctured, boiled, and plugged, recognized by lightness, insect ravages, and pegs (on breaking open); also false nutmegs, in spite of easy detection: Papua (large), Macassar (small) - M. fatua and M. argentea - both longer, more narrow and pointed, the former with little aroma after drying, the latter more brittle and aromatic, and furrowed with 4 broad stripes. Powder (Ground): Common - partially or wholly exhausted refuse, from percolation or distillation.
Commercial. - Plant prefers light soil, shade, and moist climate, produces fruit when 8-9 years old, matures at 25, and yields annually for 60-70 years. Fruit was unknown to the ancients, Avicenna being the first to notice it, and is collected when split on one or both sides, Sept. Dec, (also April-June) by means of a hook on a long pole, or by hand, placed into baskets, pericarp and arillus removed, and the seeds, spread on frames to dry by sun or fire at 60° C. (140° F.), being turned over every few days for 2 months. When kernels rattle in the shells, the latter are cracked off with mallets, and the former assorted, the best being rubbed over with powdered lime and packed in whitewashed casks or chests for market. The Chinese are supplied with uncracked seeds, while inferior grades are utilized for expressing the fixed oil. There are several varieties: 1, Unlimed (Brown, Penang, Singapore), as above described, sometimes oily to the touch, and mixed with cloves; 2, Limed (Dutch, Batavian), prepared in the Banda Islands by steeping the dried seeds for a short time in a mixture of salt water and lime (a protection against insect attacks, and possibly to kill the embryo thereby restricting the culture to their own provinces), then exposing to the sun several days and packing for market; 3, Artificial, prepared by compressing a mixture of earthy and powdery matter, being less aromatic than the genuine, also soft and crumbly when in boiling water 3 minutes; contains volatile oil 2 p. c, fat 15 p. c, ash 11-18 p. c.
Constituents. - Volatile oil 2-8-15 p. c, fixed oil 25-30 p. c, starch, proteids, mucilage, ash 2-5 p. c.
Oleum Myristicae. Oil of Myristica, official. - (Syn., Ol. Myrist., Myristica Oil, Oil of Nutmeg, Oleum Nucistae AEthereum; Fr. Essence de Muscade; Ger. Oleum Macidis, AEtherisches Muskatnussol.) This volatile oil, distilled from the kernel of the ripe seed with water or steam, is a colorless, pale yellow liquid, characteristic odor and taste of nutmeg; soluble in equal volume of alcohol, in 3 vols. of 90 p. c. alcohol, sp. gr. 0.859-0.924, dextrorotatory; contains chiefly pinene, probably some dipentene, also myristicol, C10H16O, and myristicin, C12H14O3. The nutmeg camphor (once thought to be myristin), which sometimes settles on standing, is myristic acid. Test: 1. Evaporate 3 Gm. on water-bath - residue .06 Gm. Should be kept cool, dark, in well-stoppered, amber-colored bottles Dose, ij-3 (.13-.2 Ml. (Cc.)).
Fixed Oil. (Oleum Myristicae Expressum, Oleum Nucistae). - Obtained by bruising nutmegs, exposing them in a bag to steam, and expression between heated plates; the oil runs out a liquid, but congeals upon cooling; often called nutmeg butter, and improperly oil of mace; it is an orange-brown solid, sp. gr. 0.995, melting at 45° C. (113° F.), soluble in hot ether (2), hot alcohol (4); consists mainly of myristin, with some myristic acid, palmitin, olein, resin, volatile oil 6 p. c. Dose, gr. 2-5 (.13-3 Gm.).
Preparations. - I. Seed: 1. Pulvis Aromaticus, 15 p. c. 2. Tinctura Lavandulae Composita, 1 p. c. 3. Tinctura Rhei Aromatica, 2 p. c. 4. Trochisci Sodii Bicarbonatis, 1/6 gr. (.01 Gm.). II. Oil: 1. Spiritus Ammaniae Aromaticus, 1/10 p. c.
Properties. - Stimulant, stomachic, narcotic, flavoring, condiment, increases gastric juice, digestion, appetite; large doses, like camphor, act on the cerebrum, causing stupor, delirium.
Uses. - Flatulence, carminative, diarrhoea, dysentery, vomiting, colic, dyspepsia.