Botanical name: Pimenta dioica Family: Myrtaceae (Bottlebrush family)
Synonyms: Myrtus aromatica, Myrtus dioica, Pimenta vulgaris, Pimenta officinalis
Allspice is an aromatic, evergreen, profusely-branched tree that usually grows 7-10 m tall but occasionally reaches 20 m. The bole can be up to 30 cm in diameter. Leaves are 7.5-15 cm long, oblong, leathery and aromatic. Leaves are sometimes used in cooking in somewhat the same manner as bay leaves. Creamy white flowers are borne in panicles, bloom from the upper leaf axils in summer. Female flowers give way to small green fruits which mature to reddish-brown. Fruits, up to 6 mm long are picked green, dried in the sun and stored, either powdered or whole, for culinary use. Whole fruits generally have a longer shelf life than powders and can be ground or crushed fresh when needed. The tree was used as a spice in the Caribbean before the arrival of the Europeans. Allspice is a single spice and not a blend of spices, but it smells enough like a blend (hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper and cloves) for the British, who took Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655, to give it the common name of allspice.
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