Nutmeg is a tropical evergreen tree that reaches about 65 feet tall. The nutmeg fruit is similar in appearance to an apricot. When fully mature it splits in two, exposing a crimson-colored edible pulp surrounding a single seed, the nutmeg. The nutmegs are dried gradually in the sun and turned twice daily over a period of six to eight weeks. During this time the nutmeg shrinks away from its hard seed coat. The shell is then broken and the nutmegs are picked out. Dried nutmegs are grayish-brown ovals with furrowed surfaces about 1-1.5 inches long. The spice consisting of the seed has a characteristic, pleasant fragrance and slightly warm taste; it is used to flavor many kinds of baked goods, meats, sausages, sauces, vegetables, and such beverages as eggnog.
The common name nutmeg is also applied in different countries to other fruits or seeds: the Jamaica, or calabash, nutmeg derived from Monodora myristica; the Brazilian nutmeg from Cryptocarya moschata; the Peruvian nutmeg from Laurelia aromatica; the Madagaskar, or clove, nutmeg from Ravensara aromatica; and the California, or stinking, nutmeg from Torreya californica.