Century Old Seeds [Nutmeg]
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Diane Metzloff
Posted on: February 16, 2005

I have what I believe are seeds that are possibly 100 years or older, I have attached a picture of them and am wondering if you or anyone in your field can tell me what type of seeds they are.

Your picture is not clear enough to make a definitive conclusion, but your seeds look very much like whole nutmeg. The colour is darker than is typical of nutmeg but with aging the seeds would be expected to darken. The light coloured pattern on the seed on the right resembles patterns that the aril can develop on some seeds. The aril is attached to the outside of the seed and is the part that is used as the mace spice of commerce. When the aril is removed the seed can still show a pattern on the seed coat.

Below is a picture showing a nutmeg seed still in its fruit and showing a less intricately patterned aril still attached (reproduced from www.eeob.iastate.edu/classes/botany306/terminology/fruit/images/mace-aril-nutmeg.jpg).

Below is a picture showing different nutmeg seeds and the variation in sizes and patterns (reproduced from www.yearstoyourhealth.com/herb_photos/nutmeg.jpg).

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