• Common name:  Allspice, Jamaica Pepper, Myrtle Pepper, Pimenta, Pimento
  • Scientific name: Pimenta dioica
  • Family name: Myrtaceae
  • Origin: The Caribbean and Central America
  • Height: 20-60 ft - varies greatly on where it’s grown, but averages 30 ft
  • Width: 15-25 ft
  • Growth: Moderate
  • Zone: 9b-12, hardy in zones 11 and 12
  • Light needs: Full sun
  • Salt tolerance: Moderate
  • Soil/pH/Texture: Well drained, medium moisture soil. Peaty, loamy soils work well. Tolerates both acidic and alkaline soils, between 6.1 and 7.8.
  • Moisture: Does best in high humidity with regular watering. Soil should not remain dry for extended periods of time.
  • Drought tolerance: Low
  • Pests/Diseases: Is susceptible to leaf rust; this is commonly remedied with fungicides and fertilizers. It may rarely be affected by fruit flies, scale, and moths, depending on what region it’s grown in.
  • Growing conditions: Should be grown in a sunny, humid area, with regular watering so the soil does not dry out. It adapts very well to containers and can easily be kept indoors or in a greenhouse – its height depends on where it is grown, so there is little need to worry about container plants getting too big. Container plants, however, are less likely to flower and fruit. As a tropical plant, Allspice is not resistant to cold, showing damage when temperatures dip under 28 degrees F. Although larger plants may be able to survive frost, smaller plants are very likely to be killed by it, so the plant should be kept indoors or in a greenhouse if grown in an area that experiences frost.
  • Characteristics: Height varies greatly depending on what conditions it’s grown in, but most outdoor Allspice trees will reach a height of around 30 ft. Bark is silver-gray and brown with an interesting “peeling” texture that somewhat resembles the Gumbo Limbo tree. Leaves are large, lanceolate, and similar in shape to a bay leaf, and are bright green in color. Flowers are white and fuzzy-looking, growing in large cloud-like clusters at the ends of stems. The berries are light green and circular, ripening to a reddish-brown color. The unripe berries, when dried, have the aroma and flavor of cloves, cinnamon, pepper, and nutmeg.
  • Propagation: By seed or by stem propagation. Seeds must be planted quickly after harvest, as they become unviable after 2 months.
  • Wildlife: Birds readily eat the berries, and in the wild, Allspice seeds typically germinate by first passing through a bird’s digestive tract. As a large tree, it houses many birds, insects, reptiles, and small mammals.
  • Facts: Allspice has been a greatly valued culinary ingredient, both historically and in the modern day. The name “Allspice” comes from its aroma and flavor, which resembles a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and pepper. As such, it became an important component of the spice trade, highly sought after by European colonizing powers. It is now grown around the world and used in many different cuisines: in Caribbean cuisines, it is a main component of jerk seasoning; in Middle Eastern cuisine, it is a component of stews and meat dishes; and in Northern Europe, it is commonly used in sausages. Those are but a few examples of the many ways Allspice is utilized throughout the world. The genus name “Pimenta” comes from the Spanish word “pimienta”, meaning pepper. The specific epithet “dioica” refers to the plant being dioecious, meaning that there are separate male and female plants. Interestingly, some male plants have hermaphroditic flowers which can produce fruit. There are some other plants called Allspice, such as Carolina Allspice, Japanese Allspice, and Wild Allspice; however, these plants are entirely unrelated to Jamaica Allspice and to each other and are not typically used for culinary purposes.
  • Designer considerations: Its variable height allows it to be planted in a variety of ways. It looks great as an indoor plant, where it can add height to any room. Additionally, its eye-catching bark makes this tree a great specimen planting. The smooth texture of its bark and broad leaves, along with its height, means that it should be planted near smaller, wider, more coarsely-textured plants in order to maintain visual balance.


Tropical Fruit Point

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