Tree (3-) 12-30 m. Leaves membranous or thinly chartaceous, elliptic-oblong or oblong-lanceolate, 8-16 by 2-6 cm, base cuneate, apex acute-acuminate, the tip sometimes ± blunt; Inflorescences between the leaves and below, of the Knema-type: Fruits solitary or 2 (or 3) per infructescence, (broadly) ellipsoid to globose, 2-3.5 by 1.5-3 cm, apex broadly rounded or subacute, hairs brown, scurfy, 0:1-0.2 mm or less, partially (late) glabrescent;
Asia-Tropical: Maluku (Maluku present); New Guinea present, eastern Papua New Guinea present
Malesia: Moluccas, throughout New Guinea; rare in eastern Papua New Guinea, where it is largely replaced by the resembling M. globosa. There are five subspecies.
1 Related to M. globosa, but M. tristis is distinguishable and chiefly characterized by slender twigs, membranous leaves drying frequently dark brown or blackish above, faint venation on the pale brownish lower leaf surface (generally in M. globosa the lower leaf surface much paler, with contrasting venation), persistent bracteole in the male flowers (seen in the few male-flowering collections available), generally almost globose fruits with minute scurfy hairs 0.1 mm or less, and thick pericarp, 3-8 mm thick. Myristica tristis also resembles the variable M. lancifolia (incl. M. montana as a subspecies), a species with thicker and differently shaped leaves, a different venation and papillose lower surface, more cylindric (not ovoid-oblong) male buds, and rather small ellipsoid fruits. For differences with the resembling M. lepidota subsp. montanoides, see there. Also similar is M. cumingii (Philippines) which differs in its male buds, cleft to nearly halfway, and its larger fruits. 2 Myistica tristis is highly polymorphic with a vast distributional area. Variation abounds in distinctness of the lateral nerves on the lower leaf surface, the midrib above either raised or flat, and especially in size and shape of the fruits, and thickness of the pericarp. Most variation, especially in the fruits, is correlated with the geography. Male flowering specimens still have been insufficiently collected.