Fruit of Myristica fragrans, photographed by M. Gilson.

Belongs within: Magnoliales.

Myristica is a genus of mostly rainforest trees found in southern Asia and Oceania. They are characterised by striate twigs and seeds covered by a fleshy aril that is deeply lobed to the base of the seed (Foreman 1978). The best known species is Myristica fragrans, from which comes the spices nutmeg and mace.

Characters (from Foreman 1978): Trees 5-45 m tall. Twigs striate, sometimes swollen and inhabited by ants. Stilt-roots sometimes present. Leaves coriaceous or chartaceous, glabrous or with easily removed indumentum of hairs and/or scales underneath. Inflorescence axillary, either a panicle with flowers in cymes or subumbels at end of branches or short woody knob, simple or with 2-3 branches covered with scars, occasionally both types combined with smooth basal portion and apical parts covered with scars. Bracts present, small and flowering early. Bracteoles usually persisting and embracing base of flower. Flowers pedicellate, urceolate, campanulate or more or less tubular, glabrous or hairy outside, usually three-toothed, teeth reflexed. Androecium forming column with 8-30 anthers joined by their backs to column. Ovary globose or subglobose, glabrous or hairy; style absent, stigma minutely bilobed. Fruit globose, subglobose, ovoid or oblong, glabrous or hairy, pericarp usually fairly thick and fleshy but firm when fresh. Aril red, orange or yellow, divided to base of seed; seed brown to almost black, more or less shiny; albumen ruminate. Germination hypogeal.

    |--M. andamanica CMT07
    |--M. archboldiana Smith 1941 F78
    |--M. argentea Warb. 1891 [incl. M. finschii Warb. 1897] F78
    |--M. buchneriana Warb. 1891 F78
    |--M. chrysophylla Sinclair 1968 F78
    |    |--M. c. var. chrysophylla F78
    |    `--M. c. var. entrecasteauxensis Sinclair 1968 [incl. M. fatua var. morobensis Sinclair 1968] F78
    |--M. cimicifera CW92
    |--M. concinna Sinclair 1968 F78
    |--M. cornutiflora Sinclair 1968 [incl. M. gracilipes Sinclair 1968] F78
    |--M. crassipes Warb. in Sch. & Laut. 1900 [incl. M. firmipes Sinclair 1968] F78
    |--M. cucullata Markgr. 1935 F78
    |--M. cylindrocarpa Sinclair 1968 F78
    |--M. ensifolia Sinclair 1968 F78
    |--M. fatua Houtt. 1774 F78
    |    |--M. f. var. fatua F78
    |    |--M. f. var. ingens Foreman 1974 F78
    |    |--M. f. var. morindiifolia (Bl.) Sinclair 1968 [=M. morindiifolia Bl. 1837] F78
    |    |--M. f. var. papuana Markgr. 1929 (see below for synonymy) F78
    |    |--M. f. var. quercicarpa Sinclair 1968 F78
    |    `--M. f. var. subcordata (Bl.) Miq. 1865 [=M. subcordata Bl. 1837] F78
    |--M. flosculosa Sinclair 1968 F78
    |--M. fragrans Houtt. 1774 F78
    |--M. fusca Markgr. 1935 F78
    |--M. garciniifolia Warb. 1897 F78
    |--M. globosa Warb. 1897 (see below for synonymy) F78
    |--M. hollrungii Warb. 1897 [incl. M. albertisii Warb. 1897, M. euryocarpa Warb. 1900] F78
    |--M. hooglandii Sinclair 1968 [incl. M. carrii Sinclair 1968] F78
    |--M. inopinata Sinclair 1968 F78
    |--M. insipida Brown 1810 [incl. M. guadalcanalensis Sinclair 1968 (nom. inv.)] F78
    |--M. kajewskii Smith 1941 [incl. M. cerifera Smith 1941] F78
    |--M. lancifolia Poir. in Lamk. 1816 [incl. M. papuana Scheff. 1876] F78
    |    |--M. l. var. lancifolia F78
    |    |--M. l. var. bifurcata Sinclair 1968 F78
    |    `--M. l. var. clemensii (Smith) Sinclair 1968 [=M. clemensii Smith 1941] F78
    |--M. lepidota Bl. 1837 F78
    |--M. longipes Warb. 1897 [incl. M. pachyphylla Smith 1941, M. resinosa Warb. 1897, M. warburgii Sch. 1905] F78
    |--M. markgraviana Smith 1941 F78
    |--M. neglecta Warb. 1897 F78
    |--M. pedicellata Sinclair 1968 F78
    |--M. petiolata Smith 1941 F78
    |--M. rosselensis Sinclair 1968 F78
    |--M. schleinitzii Engl. 1886 [incl. M. faroensis Hemsl. 1891] F78
    |--M. sepicana Foreman 1974 F78
    |--M. sphaerosperma Smith 1941 [incl. M. brassii Smith 1941] F78
    |--M. subalulata Miq. 1865 (see below for synonymy) F78
    |--M. sulcata Warb. 1897 [incl. M. anceps Warb. 1897, M. undulatifolia Sinclair 1968] F78
    |--M. tenuivenia Sinclair 1968 F78
    |--M. tubiflora Bl. 1837 F78
    |--M. umbrosa Sinclair 1968 F78
    |--M. uncinata Sinclair 1968 F78
    `--M. womersleyi Sinclair 1968 F78

Myristica fatua var. papuana Markgr. 1929 non M. papuana Scheff. 1876 [incl. M. multinervia Smith 1941, M. platyphylla Smith 1941, M. fatua var. platyphylla (Smith) Sinclair 1968, M. procera Smith 1941, M. sericea Warb. 1897] F78

Myristica globosa Warb. 1897 [incl. M. baeuerlenii Warb. 1897, M. chalmersii Warb. 1897, M. salomonensis Warb. 1897, M. schumanniana Warb. 1900, M. tristis Warb. 1897] F78

Myristica subalulata Miq. 1865 [incl. M. bialata Warb. 1891, M. costata Warb. 1893, M. heterophylla Sch. 1889, M. myrmecophila Becc. 1884, M. velutina Markgr. 1935] F78

*Type species of generic name indicated


[CW92] Cassis, G., & T. A. Weir. 1992. Rutelinae. In: Houston, W. W. K. (ed.) Zoological Catalogue of Australia vol. 9. Coleoptera: Scarabaeoidea pp. 359–382. AGPS Press: Canberra.

[CMT07] Chakrabarty, T., V. Maina & M. Tigga. 2007. Some unrecorded medicinal plants of the Jarawa tribe of Andaman Islands. Bulletin of the Botanical Survey of India 49: 233–234.

[F78] Foreman, D. B. 1978. Myristicaceae (excluding Horsfieldia). In: Womersley, J. S. (ed.) Handbooks of the Flora of Papua New Guinea vol. 1 pp. 175–215. Melbourne University Press: Carlton South (Australia).

Last updated: 6 May 2021.

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