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Myristica fragrans


Myristica fragrans Houtt.

Family Name: Myristicaceae
Common Name: Nutmeg, Pokok Pala, Buah Pala, Pala, 玉果, 肉果


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Small (6m-15m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Irregular
Maximum Height 10


Native Distribution Moluccas
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical

Description and Ethnobotany

Others - Plant Morphology Tree, up to 10 m (rarely 20 m) height. Leaves fragrant when crushed. Flowers, inconspicuous, yellow, no petals; dioecious species (separate male and female plants). Fruits surrounded by aromatic yellowish husk, contain seed kernel (nutmeg) and aromatic red lacy aril (mace). Seeds take 1 to 2 months to germinate. Plant prefers well-drained, acidic loamy soils. Fruit husk processed into preserved fruits and jellies. Nutmeg and mace used as culinary spice. Also used to treat rheumatism and diarrhoea. Believed to have aphrodisiac properties.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts : Edible Fruits, Edible Seeds
Food (Herb and Spice)
Cultural / Religious: Heritage Tree : There are 2 individuals of Myristica fragrans listed as Heritage Trees in Singapore. They are found in Singapore Botanic Gardens. To find out more about these trees, please visit the Heritage Tree Register.
Others: Nutmeg (seed) and mace (aril) used as spice. Nutmeg used to treat rheumatism and diarrhoea. Fruit husk processed into preserved fruit and jelly.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Fragrant (Flowers, Foliage, Fruits) (Time Independent)
Landscape Uses General
Thematic Landscaping Economic Garden, Naturalistic Garden
SGMP Treatment

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna) (Seeds dispersed by Nutmeg Pigeons ( Ducula spp.) in Moluccas)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade, Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Slow
Rootzone Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Acidic (low pH) Soils
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting, Grafting
Propagation Method Remarks Seeds take 1 to 2 months to germinate.


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Glossy / Shiny
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Oblong)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Typical Foliar Area Microphyll ( 2.25cm2 - 20.25 cm2 )
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root, Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Unisexual Flowers , Dioecious
Flower Colour(s) White
Flower Size - Remarks Small, inconspicuous
Flowering Period Free-Flowering

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Cream / Off-White, Yellow / Golden
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Fleshy Fruit , Drupe

Image Repository



Master ID 1744
Species ID 3037
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 14 October 2021.