Some new acquisitions

Allspice, Pimenta dioica

Allspice: Pimenta dioica

Myrtaceae

From the West Indies and Central America, this plant produces pea-sized berries which, unripe, are dried. Allspice is often incorrectly thought to be a combination of several spices. Plants are fairly easy to grow in a greenhouse and lend themselves to container-cultivation.

cinnamonCinnamomum zelanicum

Cinnamon: Cinnamomum zeylanicum

Lauraceae

Most of what you purchase as “cinnamon” in the grocery store is indeed NOT cinnamon, but cassia (another species of the same genus–see below). True cinnamon is lighter in color (the spice) and much stronger and sweeter. In europe and much of the world this is the preferred version. It is the cinnamon that dates in use to antiquity. From Ceylon and Southwest India it likes humid, warm conditions. It will, of course, be in the greenhouse. When I get the new greenhouse built, it will go into the ground, but be under cover. Plants are cut to the ground (coppiced) to stimulate massive growth of “water sprouts”. These stems are harvested, the inner bark extracted for use as the familar curled cinnamon sticks.

img_0099Cinnamomum aromaticum

Cassia: Cinnamomum aromaticum

Lauraceae

This is the source of most cinnamon in the market. The flavor is more delicate, less sweet than true cinnamon. I am not totally sure how to harvest it, but it seems, from what I have read, much easier.

Synsepalum dulcificum

Miracle Fruit: Synsepalum dulcificum

Sapotaceae

This is one of the coolest things I have discovered in a while. Eat the fruits, and for about thirty minutes to a few hours everything that is normally bitter or sour will taste sweet. The molecule responsible, an active glycoprotein with trailing carbohydrate chains, binds up the tongue’s taste buds. From West Africa, this plant was being researched as a sweetner substitute (with no penalty) in the 1970s. It seems that politics between the sugar industry and the FDA has kept this amazing plant from seeing its full commercial potential. It loves heat and humidity. No problem.

Calabash NutmegMonodora myrsitican558569602_1983341_3469

Calabash Nutmeg: Monodora myrsitica

Annonaceae

From Sierra Leone west to Cameroons and Uganda, south to Angola, this tree produces orchid-like flowers that dangle from a pendant peduncle. Large fruits produce seeds that resemble the flavor of nutmeg. I don’t know much about growing this plant, but it looks simple enough: a typical tropical.

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