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Useful Tropical Plants

Pimenta racemosa

(Mill.) J.W.Moore

Myrtaceae

+ Synonyms

Amomis acris (Sw.) O.Berg

Amomis caryophyllata Krug & Urb.

Amomis oblongata O.Berg

Amomis pimento O.Berg

Amomis pimentoides O.Berg

Caryophyllus racemosus Mill.

Eugenia tabasco (Willd. ex Schltdl. & Cham.) G.Don

Myrcia acris (Sw.) DC.

Myrcia pimentoides DC.

Myrtus acris Sw.

Myrtus caryophyllata Jacq.

Myrtus citrifolia Poir.

Myrtus pimentoides (DC.) T.Nees

Pimenta acris (Sw.) Kostel.

Pimenta acuminata Bello

Pimenta citrifolia (Poir.) Kostel.

Pimenta pimento Griseb.

Pimenta tabasco (Willd. ex Schltdl. & Cham.) Lundell

Pimentus cotinifolia Raf.

Common Name: Bay Rum Tree

Pimenta racemosa
A large, mature tree
Photograph by: François Guibert
Creative Commons License
Pimenta racemosa Pimenta racemosa Pimenta racemosa Pimenta racemosa Pimenta racemosa Pimenta racemosa Pimenta racemosa

General Information

Bay rum tree is an evergreen tree with a dense, columnar, dark green crown; it usually grows up to 15 metres tall, but with some specimens up to 25 metres[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. The bole, which is often slightly ridged and grooved, is up to 20cm in diameter[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
The plant is harvested from the wild for its leaves and fruits, which are used as food flavourings, medicines and a source of essential oils. It is sometimes cultivated for its essential oil, and is also grown as an ornamental and shade-producing tree[
447
Title
Common Trees of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
Publication
 
Author
Little E.L.; Wadsworth F.H.
Publisher
USDA, Forest Service; Washington.
Year
1964
ISBN
 
Description
Contains detailed information, and usually an illustration, on 250 tree species, including both native and exotic species.
],

Known Hazards

The fruit, the essential oil in the leaves and the bay rum made from it, are all toxic and should not be ingested[
423
Title
Desert Tropicals
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.desert-tropicals.com/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
The main focus of the site is succulent plants, but it also contains information on a wide range of other species. Usually at least one good photograph, plus basic information about the plant and its cultivation.
].
Bay rum, as used in hair dressings and aftershaves, may cause irritation of the skin[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
The essential oil is approved for food use by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States and is 'generally recognized as safe' (GRAS). However, contact dermatitis caused by the components eugenol and phellandrene of the essential oil has been reported[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Botanical References


Range

Northern S. America - Venezuela; Caribbean - Trinidad to Cuba.

Habitat

Forests, usually on dry slopes in Puerto Rico[
447
Title
Common Trees of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
Publication
 
Author
Little E.L.; Wadsworth F.H.
Publisher
USDA, Forest Service; Washington.
Year
1964
ISBN
 
Description
Contains detailed information, and usually an illustration, on 250 tree species, including both native and exotic species.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Tree
Height15.00 m
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant of lowland tropical areas, where it is found at elevations up to 750 metres[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. It grows best in areas where the mean annual temperate is within the range 22 - 28°c, but can tolerate 18 - 32°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It can tolerate occasional very light frosts, the leaves being damaged at temperatures of -1°c, and limbs being killed at -3°c[
423
Title
Desert Tropicals
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.desert-tropicals.com/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
The main focus of the site is succulent plants, but it also contains information on a wide range of other species. Usually at least one good photograph, plus basic information about the plant and its cultivation.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall of 1,400 - 2,000mm, but can tolerate 700 - 2,800mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Prefers an annual rainfall of 2,500mm evenly distributed over the year with few months with less than 200 mm rainfall, although natural stands occur in areas with only 750 mm annual rainfall[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Although trees grow well with 1,250 - 1,500mm annual rainfall, regrowth following pruning is too slow for commercial plantations to be profitable[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Prefers a sunny position, succeeding in most soils that are well-drained[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Growth is best on deep fertile loamy soils with a slightly acid to neutral pH, but most plantations are on marginal soils on slopes, better soils being allocated to food crops[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6, tolerating 4.5 - 7[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
After planting, young plants require protection from direct sunlight until they are well established[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Topped seedlings often produce several main shoots. Two main shoots are sometimes retained, since experience has shown that foliage yield is higher than from single-stemmed trees[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
After 2 - 3 years, the trees are topped at 3 - 5 metres and are maintained at that height.
Trees coppice well - misshapen or diseased trees can be cut back to ground level, allowing a new shoot to grow from the stump[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Well managed groves are harvested once a year or 3 times in 4 years. The harvesting interval depends more on the age of the leaves than on the rate of regrowth. Leaves are shed after 2 - 3 years, so a harvesting interval longer than 2 years may result in reduced yields[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Harvesting can be done year-round, though dry periods are preferred. It is not clear whether the higher yield during this period is due to a higher leaf oil content or to a higher proportion of mature leaves[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Leaf yield in established groves may vary between 8 - 35 t/ha (with an oil content of 1 - 3.5%)[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
The life of plantations is indeterminate, as trees regenerate from stumps, but the effect of regular harvesting on the life expectancy is not known. Individual trees of 50 years old are known[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
A variable plant, with several varieties being recognized[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. The var grisea yields a very inferior essential oil that, if combined with other varieties, can have a very negative effect on oil quality[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Care should be taken to remove any spontaneous seedlings that do not yield commercially acceptable bay leaf oil[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Edible Uses

The aromatic fruits, bark, and especially the leaves, are processed for use as a spice[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. The leaves are used as a spice in cooking[
423
Title
Desert Tropicals
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.desert-tropicals.com/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
The main focus of the site is succulent plants, but it also contains information on a wide range of other species. Usually at least one good photograph, plus basic information about the plant and its cultivation.
].

The dried green berries have a spicy flavour with hints of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg and are used as a spice[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
,
447
Title
Common Trees of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
Publication
 
Author
Little E.L.; Wadsworth F.H.
Publisher
USDA, Forest Service; Washington.
Year
1964
ISBN
 
Description
Contains detailed information, and usually an illustration, on 250 tree species, including both native and exotic species.
]. The red-brown to black fruit is a fleshy, subglobose to ellipsoid berry, 8 - 12mm long with 1 - 3 seeds[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

The leaves are used to make an aromatic tea[
348
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
Publication
 
Author
DeFilipps, R. A.; Maina, S. L.; & Crepin, J.
Website
http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/index.html
Publisher
Smithsonian Museum
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A down-loadable PDF document of a book in pre-publication awaiting illustration. An excellent, if rather terse, guide to the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the region
].

Medicinal

Bay rum tree has many uses in traditional medicine, mostly based on the antibiotic properties of the phenols in the essential oil[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Bay Rum (the leaves distilled in rum) has been used in folk medicine for treating sore muscles, strains, and sprains[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

A tea from the leaves is drunk as a stimulant and as a treatment for flatulence, colds and fever[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
,
348
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
Publication
 
Author
DeFilipps, R. A.; Maina, S. L.; & Crepin, J.
Website
http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/index.html
Publisher
Smithsonian Museum
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A down-loadable PDF document of a book in pre-publication awaiting illustration. An excellent, if rather terse, guide to the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the region
].

The essential oil from the leaves is used as a remedy for stomach pains, and is applied externally to treat skin diseases[
348
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
Publication
 
Author
DeFilipps, R. A.; Maina, S. L.; & Crepin, J.
Website
http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/index.html
Publisher
Smithsonian Museum
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A down-loadable PDF document of a book in pre-publication awaiting illustration. An excellent, if rather terse, guide to the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the region
].

Other Uses

The leaves contain up to 5% essential oil - the highest content occurring in regions of lower rainfall (1,100 mm annually), the lowest in more humid areas (2,200 mm annually)[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. It is used in perfumery, making soaps, toilet waters etc[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. The essential oil contains eugenol, myrcine, chavicol and methyl-eugenol[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
]. To some people the sensory properties of the oil can be quite offensive, sickly sweet and nauseating; others perceive it as quite fresh and pleasant. Its flavour is warm, almost pungent, spicy and somewhat bitter[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. A yield of 500g of oil per 45 kilos of leaves has been obtained[
356
Title
The Useful and Ornamental Plants of Trinidad and Tobago.
Publication
 
Author
Williams. R. O. & Williams. R. O. Jnr.
Publisher
Self Published in Trinidad and Tobago.
Year
1951
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a wide range of plants both native and introduced to Trinidad and Tobago. Gives a brief description of the plant and some of its local uses.
].
Traditionally, the leaves are distilled with rum to produce bay rum, which has soothing and antiseptic properties and was formerly a very popular toilet water and hair tonic[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
In the production of terpeneless bay leaf oil, the terpenes (mostly the monoterpenes with a low boiling point) are removed by vacuum distillation. Myrcene is the most important compound removed[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Terpeneless bay leaf oil is a pale straw-coloured to brownish-orange liquid with an intensely sweet, deep and mellow spicy-balsamic odour and lemon-like top note that is less pronounced than in the 'crude' oil. It is easily dissolved in diluted alcohol, which is an advantage as it is often used in preparation with a low alcohol content, such as hair lotions[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
An absolute can be prepared by extracting the 'crude' oil with alcohol. The absolute contains neither monoterpene nor sesquiterpene hydrocarbons[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Two different oils distilled from var. Racemosa have been reported: a 'lemon' type and an 'anise' type. Both types are reported from the Caribbean island Guadeloupe and may have been introduced into Java in the 1880s. The 'lemon' type is rich in citral (geranial and neral); the 'anise' type contains mainly methyl eugenol and estragol (methyl chavicol)[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Samples of var. Hispaniolensis were characterized by thymol and 'GAMMA'-terpinene, 1,8-cineole and methyl eugenol, 1,8-cineole and methyl chavicol or 1,8-cineole and terpinen-4-ol[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Samples from var. Ozua were high in 1,8-cineole and 'ALFA'-terpineol[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
The essential oil from var. Grisea was characterized by trans-methyl isoeugenol, methyl eugenol or geraniol. Var. Grisea is so common and has such a negative effect on the quality of the oil that it is called 'false bay rum tree'[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

The essential oil is used as an insect repellent[
348
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
Publication
 
Author
DeFilipps, R. A.; Maina, S. L.; & Crepin, J.
Website
http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/index.html
Publisher
Smithsonian Museum
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A down-loadable PDF document of a book in pre-publication awaiting illustration. An excellent, if rather terse, guide to the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the region
].

The sapwood is light brown, and the heartwood brownish red or blackish and mottled[
447
Title
Common Trees of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
Publication
 
Author
Little E.L.; Wadsworth F.H.
Publisher
USDA, Forest Service; Washington.
Year
1964
ISBN
 
Description
Contains detailed information, and usually an illustration, on 250 tree species, including both native and exotic species.
]. The wood is very hard, very heavy, strong, tough, durable and fine-grained[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
,
447
Title
Common Trees of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
Publication
 
Author
Little E.L.; Wadsworth F.H.
Publisher
USDA, Forest Service; Washington.
Year
1964
ISBN
 
Description
Contains detailed information, and usually an illustration, on 250 tree species, including both native and exotic species.
]. It is resistant to attack by dry-wood termites[
447
Title
Common Trees of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
Publication
 
Author
Little E.L.; Wadsworth F.H.
Publisher
USDA, Forest Service; Washington.
Year
1964
ISBN
 
Description
Contains detailed information, and usually an illustration, on 250 tree species, including both native and exotic species.
]. The wood is used in carpentry, for making walking sticks, and for posts. It splits easily and is an excellent fuel[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
,
447
Title
Common Trees of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
Publication
 
Author
Little E.L.; Wadsworth F.H.
Publisher
USDA, Forest Service; Washington.
Year
1964
ISBN
 
Description
Contains detailed information, and usually an illustration, on 250 tree species, including both native and exotic species.
].

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Germination generally takes 2 - 6 weeks. Seedlings are ready for transplanting to the field in 18 - 24 months[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Before planting the stem is topped to 15 cm and the taproot is pruned to 7 cm to encourage lateral rooting[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Vegetative propagation is rarely practised, but budding which is applied successfully to Pimenta dioica is probably suitable for this species as well[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

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