The nutmegs Myristica are a genus of evergreen trees indigenous to tropical southeast Asia and Australasia. They are important for two spices derived from the fruit, nutmeg and mace. Mace within nutmeg fruit Nutmeg is the actual seed of the tree, roughly egg-shaped and about 20-30 mm long and 15-18 mm wide, while mace is the dried "lacy" reddish covering or arillus of the seed. Nutmeg and mace have similar taste qualities, nutmeg having a slightly sweeter and mace a more delicate flavor. Mace is often preferred in light-coloured dishes for the bright orange, saffron-like colour it imparts. It is nice in cheese sauces and is best grated fresh. In Indian cuisine, nutmeg is used almost exclusively in sweets. In European cuisine, nutmeg and mace are used especially in potato dishes and in processed meat products; they are also used in soups, sauces and baked goods. Japanese varieties of curry powder include nutmeg as an ingredient. Nutmeg is a traditional ingredient in mulled cider and mulled wine. Nutmeg powder is used as an ingredient, in small quantities, in the Indian spice mixture garam masala, which is a mixture of dry spices.It is also used as a flavouring agent in Indian sweets.
A possible future use for nutmeg is as a natural control for insects that infest stored cereal grains. At one time, nutmeg was one of the most valuable spices.