Allspice tree

By sandy January 30, 2012

Over the break I went to Miami and saw this. It was at the house of a plant explorer who worked for the US Dept. of Agriculture in the 1900’s. He brought it back from Jamaica.

You’ve had allspice in our hot mulled cider. It’s the big dried berries that lend the cider some spice. Allspice is also used in the bizarre Cincinnati-style chili I tried while driving the Clover truck cross-country. The name comes from British colonists who thought it tasted like everything from cinnamon and cloves to nutmeg and anise.

Even more wild than its flavor is the way allspice is spread in nature. One of our MIT customers told us about this – can anybody confirm it’s true? Apparently, the ripe berries from the tree will only sprout a new plant if they’ve been eaten by a bird first. Something about the environment inside the bird’s stomach.

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