Myristica

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Myristica

Description

Trees, dioecious (occasionally M. fragrans monoecious, M. crassa paroecious); Leaves brittle when dry, lower surface often pale, papillose or not, dots present or absent; Inflorescences sometimes supra-axillary, either a pedunculate branched panicle with the flowers in subumbels, or a (sub)sessile woody simple or 2-4-armed wart-like or worm-like densely scar-covered brachyblast producing flowers at the apex (as in Knema), or less often a combination of the two types when the basal part is smooth and bears 1-3 sparsely or densely scarred brachyblasts at its extremity; Flowers pedicellate, bracteole mostly persistent, often apical and embracing the perianth. Fruits globose to oblong, or pyriform, 1-10 cm long, glabrous, tomentose, or lanose;

Distribution

Asia-Tropical: New Guinea present, Malesia east to NE Australia present, S India and Indochina present, in the Pacific east to Fiji present
Some 175 species, from S India and Indochina (rare) through Malesia east to NE Australia and in the Pacific east to Fiji. Most species occur in New Guinea, with many endemics.
(see p. 5).

Taxonomy

Sinclair, in his monograph (1968), distinguished two sections, 1) sect. Myristica, with inflorescences more or less branched panicle-like, and with a smooth, non-scar-covered (often ± flattened) peduncle, generally lasting but one flowering season, and 2) sect. Fatua, with (sub)sessile, simple or forked scar-covered, wart- or wormlike inflorescences (as in the genus Knema), lasting several flowering seasons. Within each section respectively 9 and 10 series are recognized, slightly less (and differently defined) as was done by Warburg (1897). Sinclair (1958, 1968) was aware of the many intermediate forms of inflorescences of the species, rendering the distinction of the two sections very weak. As discussed by De Wilde (1992, 1994) the shape and architecture of the inflorescences are useful in the keys, but a (monophyletic) division of the genus into two sections is unwarranted. At present, no sections or series are recognized.

The nutmeg of commerce, M. fragrans, has delicate inflorescences of a variable structure, and a large part of the material actually should be grouped in the section with M. fatua-typc inflorescences. However, M.fragrans is the type species of the genus Myristica, and hence of section Myristica.

Notes

Besides a general key to the species (1), mostly based on male flowering specimens, separate regional keys (2-7) are given, mainly based on female flowering and fruiting material, although vegetative characters are also used. Because most species of New Guinea are different from those of the rest of the Malesian area, but difficult to segregate from the others in a general key, they are keyed out separately (8).

Citation

Warb., Mon. Myrist. 1897: 374
J. Sinclair - in Gard. Bull. Sing. 1958
W.J. de Wilde - in Blumea. 1994
in Ann. Mus. Bot. Lugd.-Bat. 1864: 205
King - in Ann. Roy. Bot. Gard. Cale. 1891: 286
W.J. de Wilde - in Blumea. 1990
Miq. - in Fl. Ind. Bat. 1858: 53
A.DC. - in Prodr. 1856: 189
Hook.f. & Thomson - in Fl. Ind. 1855: 162
Gronov. - in Tree Fl. Sabah & Sarawak. 2000: 449
Hook.f. - in Fl. Brit. India. 1886: 102
W.J. de Wilde - in Blumea. 1995
W.J. de Wilde - in Beitr. Biol. Pflanzen. '1991', 1992: 113
Kubitzki et al. - in Fam. & Gen. Vase. PL. 1993: 466
W.J. de Wilde - in Blumea. 1997
J. Sinclair - in Gard. Bull. Sing. 1968