Characteristics of allspice

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What is allspice (Pimienta dioica)?

Allspice characteristics

Common English name: allspice, Jamaica pepper, pepper, pepper Clover

Common name in other languages:

– Spanish: pimienta de Jamaica, pimienta gorda, pimienta guayabita, pimienta dulce, pimienta inglesa, Malagueta, clavileña, pimienta de Chiapa, pimienta de tabasco, pimientón, cuatro especias.

– Catalan: totespècies, pebre dioic, pebre of Jamaica.

– Portuguese: Pimenta-da-jamaica.

– French: piment of Jamaïque, the Jamaïque poivre.

– Italian: Giamaicano Pepe, Pepe garofanato.

– German: Nelkenpfeffer, Jamaikapfeffer, Neugewürz, Englisches Gewürz.

– Nahuatl (Mexico): Xococochitl.

Scientific name: Pimenta dioica L.

Taxonomic Synonyms: Myrtus dioica L., Caryophyllus pepper Mill, Myrtus Salisb aromatica., Eugenia Pimenta DC., Myrtus Pimenta L., Pimenta vulgaris Bello., Pimenta officinalis Lindl.

Family: Myrtaceae.

Habitat: allspice is part of the natural vegetation of tropical forest and has been used since ancient times by native people.

It grows at altitudes between 500-1300 meters.

* More information: Cultivation of allspice.

Botanical description of allspice

Allspice (Pimenta dioica) is a slow-growing perennial shrub, which can be between 6 and 9 (up to 12) meters high. It is a very aromatic and fragrant plant.

Its stem has a thin bark, grayish and withreddish-brown stains, that easily comes off in long strips.

Irregular plant, dense, with ascending and flat branches. Branches gray-green or dark green, with fine white-yellowish pubescence.

Its leaves are large, opposite, petiolate, elliptic or oblong, margin entire, bright green on the surface and paler on the underside. They measure between 5.5 and 17 cm long by 2 to 6.5 inches wide. The leaves have oil-bearing glands and give off a strong aroma.

The plant blooms in mid-spring. The inflorescence is an axillary panicle, between 5 and 12 centimeters long where the flowers are. Each panicle may contain 50 to 100 flowers.

Flowers actinomorphic, bisexual, 4 sepals, 4-5 petals; pale pink and 5 mm long. Numerous stamens, filiform style. Between 3-4 millimeters in diameter.

Although the flowers are bisexual, there are cases where the designation of dioicious plant is justified: flowering trees exist with few stamens where the pollen does not germinate, they are called female trees and they produce fruit. However, the “male trees” have sterile eggs that do not bear fruit.

In the cultivation of allspice it is recommend planting male individuals to increase productivity of female trees.

The fruits are small berries globose, covered on its surface by glands resulting in a rough touch. When the fruit is dried, these glands are responsible for the characteristic bumps of dry peppercorn. Fruits are 7 to 8 mm long, green, becoming black at maturity. Mucilaginous thin mesocarp.

The seeds are small, about the size of 4 mm in diameter; suborbicular without endosperm. Each pod contains 2 brown seeds therein, arranged in two cells, each cell contains a seed.


In the picture: botanical illustration of leaves and inflorescence of Pimenta dioica.

Etymology of Allspice

Christopher Columbus was who, excited by his discovery, first reported this fragrant plant, since one of the goals of his trip was to find a new spice route.

When the plant was discovered by the colonists, they called it Jamaica pepper because they mistake it with Black pepper (Piper nigrum), due to the similarity in size between both fruits, but, botanically, these two plants do not share the same family and they are physically very different plants

Allspice peppercorns

In the picture: Jamaica peppercorns, where you can see its touch rough because the glands on the surface of the fruit.

Composition of allspice





Vitamins: Vitamin C, beta carotene, thiamin.

Minerals: plant: aluminum, chromium, vanadium. fruit: potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, zinc, boron.

Organic acids (fruit): malic acid.

Organic compounds: cinnamaldehyde.

Monoterpenes: cineol, limonene, phellandrene, alpha-pinene.

Sesquiterpenes: caryophyllene, alo-aromadendrene, epizonarene, muurolene, selinene.

Terpene alcohols: linalool.

Phenylpropones: eugenol (higher content in plants after clove), chavicol


Essential oil of allspice : The essential oil of allspice is particularly rich in eugenol (up to 85% of essential oil), alpha-phellandrene, cineol, linalool, tepineol, humulene, chavicol.

The fruit has a higher concentration of essential oil in the green fruits (immature) than black fruit (ripe). The leaves are also rich in essential oil, although in lower concentration than the fruit. Because of the essential oil, the whole plant has an intense fragrance.

Composition of allspice

(Pimenta dioica)

Chemicals Contents

(in ppm.)

Carbohydrates 749.000 – 757.000
Proteins 117.000 – 134.000
Fats 36.000 – 41.000
Fiber 175.000 – 179.000
Cineol 690
Aluminium 110
Chromium 5
Components of allspice leaves

(Pimenta dioica)

Chemicals Contents

(in ppm.)

Ascorbic acid 2.012 – 2.067
Betacarotenes 103 – 120
Eugenol 8.348
Caryophyllene 760
Cineol 51
Aromadendrene 12
Muurolene 45
Selinene 45
Terpinolene 27
Terpinene 11
Linalol 5
Components of allspice fruits

(Pimenta dioica)

Chemicals Contents

(in ppm.)

Phytosterols 666
Eugenol 7.000 – 36.000
Terpinen-4-ol 1.260
Humelene 405
Ledene 237
Calamenene 90
Cadinol 66
Iron 60 – 85
Spatulenol 60
Cadinene 51
Globulol 33
Limonene 15
Pinene 14
Phellandrene 6

punto rojo More information about allspice properties and other types of peppers in the listing above

Botanical classification
Kingdom Plantae
Subkingdom Tracheobionta

Vascular plants

Superdivision Spermatophyta

Seed plants

Division Magnoliophyta

Flower plants

Class Magnoliopsida


Subclass Rosidae
Order Myrtales
Family Myrtaceae
Subfamily Myrtoideae
Tribe Myrteae
Gender Pimenta
Species P. dioica L.

punto rojo More information about allspice properties and other types of peppers in the listing above

Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

20 March, 2019

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Botanical-online is an informative page that describes, among other topics, the traditional uses of plants from a therapeutic point of view. Their descriptions do not replace professional advice. Botanical-online is not responsible for self-medication and recommends consulting with the physician.