Botanically known as Myristica fragrans, the nutmeg tree originates in Banda, the largest of the Molucca spice islands of Indonesia. The English word nutmeg comes from the latin nux, meaning nut, and muscat, meaning musky.
In the first century A.D., Roman author Pliny speaks of a tree bearing nuts with two flavors. Emperor Henry VI had the streets of Rome fumigated with nutmegs before his coronation. In the sixth century, nutmegs were brought by Arab merchants to Constantinople. In the fourteenth century, half a kilogram of nutmeg cost as much as three sheep or a cow. The Dutch waged a bloody war, including the massacre and enslavement of the inhabitants of the island of Banda, just to control nutmeg production in the East Indies. In 1760, the price of nutmeg in London was 85-90 shillings per pound, a price kept artificially high by the Dutch voluntarily burning full warehouses of nutmegs in Amsterdam. The Dutch held control of the spice islands until World War II. Frenchman Pierre Poivre transported seedlings to Mauritius where they flourished, aiding in ending the Dutch monopoly of the spice. The British East India Company brought the nutmeg tree to Penang, Singapore, India, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, and most notably Grenada