Field of Science

Nutmeg - a sordid history

Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) is without doubt the Phactor's favorite plant and the nutmegs his favorite plant family.  Yes, magnolias are a big deal too, but primarily because you can't grow nutmeg in Lincolnland except in a glass house (yes, a nutmeg or two are there).  Now nutmeg has actually never done anything sordid, but the people who craved, coveted, and sought nutmeg (the seed, here in half its fruit) and its twin spice mace (red aril around the seed), have done lots of bad things which is sort of ironic for a spice that makes you feel good.  Although the whole story is quite involved (Nathaniel's Nutmeg: Or the True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History), one of the punch lines is it tells you how New Amsterdam became New York.  At any rate some people consider this a seasonal story, so it was no surprise that it appeared recently on NPR. This will add some spice to your eggnog.  Image source: Brocken Inaglory, Wikimedia Creative Commons. 

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