Allspice (Pimenta dioica)

Allspice (Pimenta dioica)

Allspice (Pimenta dioica) – Botany, Geographical Distribution And Horticultural Information


Allspice, scientifically known as Pimenta dioica, belongs to the Myrtaceae family. It is an evergreen shrub that can grow into a small, scrubby tree or a tall canopy tree, reaching heights of 10–18 meters. The plant is characterized by its leaves, similar in texture to bay leaves, and its fruits, which are dried and used as a spice. The fruits are picked when green and unripe, and traditionally sun-dried, turning brown and resembling large, smooth peppercorns. The drying process is crucial to retain volatile oil, such as eugenol, in the end products.

Geographical Distribution:

Pimenta dioica is native to the Greater Antilles, southern Mexico, and Central America. It has been cultivated in many warm parts of the world, including Tonga and Hawaii, where it has become naturalized on Kauaʻi and Maui. Jamaica remains the leading source of the plant, although it is also grown in other countries within the same region. The plant’s distribution in Mexico spans the East and Southeast parts of the country.

Horticultural Information:

Allspice cultivation requires normal garden soil and watering, adapting well to container culture. It can be grown outdoors in the tropics and subtropics. Smaller plants are susceptible to frost, while larger plants show more tolerance. The plant’s domestication and cultivation have been increasing, moving from wild harvesting in tropical forests to more controlled agricultural practices. This shift is particularly noted in areas like the Sierra Norte de Puebla in Mexico, where it holds significant socioeconomic importance.


Allspice is a versatile spice, integral to Jamaican cuisine, particularly in jerk seasoning. Its leaves and wood are often used for smoking meats. In Mexican cuisine, it is known as Pimienta gorda and is used in various dishes. The spice is also indispensable in Middle Eastern cuisine, especially in the Levant region. In North American and Northern European cooking, it is used in commercial sausage preparations, curry powders, and pickling. Allspice is also used in desserts in the United States and appears in many British dishes.


1. “La pimienta de Jamaica en la Sierra Norte de Puebla (México)” –
2. Wikipedia: “Allspice” –
3. “Moringa (Moringa oleifera Lam.): A Versatile Tree Crop with Horticultural Potential in the Subtropical United States” –


Detailed Report on Allspice (Pimenta dioica): History, Traditional Herbal & Culinary Uses


Allspice, known scientifically as Pimenta dioica, has been an important spice since ancient times. The name “allspice” was coined by the English around 1621, reflecting its aroma that combines hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. Christopher Columbus encountered allspice on his second voyage to the New World, and it quickly became a part of European diets. Initially found only in Jamaica, where birds spread its seeds, Jamaican growers protected the pimenta trade by restricting the export of the plant. The unique requirement of passage through the avian digestive tract for germinating the seeds was a key factor in its cultivation.

Traditional Herbal Uses:

Traditionally, allspice has been valued for both its culinary and medicinal qualities. In herbal medicine, various compounds isolated from the plant, including phenylpropanoids, tannins, glycosides, and essential oil, have been used for their therapeutic properties. The leaves of Pimenta have been utilized in traditional practices to flavor rice, giving it a distinctive aroma. The essential oil from the leaf of Pimenta dioica, particularly eugenol, has been used as a dental analgesic.

Culinary Uses:

Allspice is widely used in cooking for its intricate aroma. It is a key ingredient in Jamaican cuisine, especially in jerk seasoning, and its wood is traditionally used for smoking jerk. The dried berries are used for marinating meat. In the West Indies, an allspice liqueur known as “pimento dram” is produced. In Mexican cuisine, it is referred to as Pimienta gorda and is used in various dishes. Allspice is also indispensable in Middle Eastern cuisine, particularly in the Levant for flavoring stews and meat dishes. In Northern European and North American cooking, it is an ingredient in commercial sausage preparations, curry powders, and pickling. It is also used in desserts in the United States and appears in many British dishes.


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Detailed Report on Scientific and Medicinal Studies of Allspice (Pimenta dioica)

Scientific Studies:

Recent scientific research on Allspice (Pimenta dioica) has focused on its phytochemical and pharmacological properties. Studies have identified key components like eugenol (60–90% in berries, >90% in leaves), 1,8-cineole, α-humulene, β-caryophyllene, and cadinene derivatives in pimenta essential oil. These components are known for their health and wellness benefits. The phytochemical screening of P. dioica leaves, dried using different techniques, revealed the presence of alkaloids, carbohydrates, flavonoids, phenols, proteins, saponins, tannins, and terpenoids. The aqueous extract showed the highest diversity of phytochemical compounds. Physicochemical analysis provided insights into moisture content, ash values, extractive yields, and pH characteristics of the dried leaves. Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) profiling helped in identifying chemical constituents and their migration patterns in the extracts.

Medicinal Studies:

Pimenta dioica has been recognized for its potential anti-SARS-CoV-2 agents from natural sources. The study of bioactive compounds isolated from the leaves of Pimenta dioica, such as ferulic acid, rutin, gallic acid, and chlorogenic acid, revealed significant anti-viral and anti-inflammatory activities. These compounds were tested for their cytotoxicity and inhibitory concentrations against SARS-CoV-2. Rutin, gallic acid, and chlorogenic acid showed remarkable anti-SARS-CoV-2 activities. Additionally, the anti-inflammatory effects of these compounds were assessed in vivo, indicating potential benefits for COVID-19 management. The study also emphasized the need for more advanced preclinical and clinical studies, particularly on rutin, either alone or in combination with other isolates.


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2. “Phytochemical and physicochemical profiling of Pimenta dioica (L.) extracts using diverse solvents and drying methods: A comprehensive scientific investigation” –
3. “Pimenta dioica (L.) Merr. Bioactive Constituents Exert Anti-SARS-CoV-2 and Anti-Inflammatory Activities: Molecular Docking and Dynamics, In Vitro, and In Vivo Studies” –
4. “Preliminary Phytochemical and Anatomical Studies on Bark and Leaves of Pimenta dioica (L.) Merr.; (Family-Myrtaceae)” –


Specific List of Phytochemicals in Allspice (Pimenta dioica)

Identified Phytochemicals:

1. Eugenol: Predominant in the berries (60–90%) and leaves (>90%).
2. 1,8-Cineole
3. α-Humulene
4. β-Caryophyllene
5. Cadinene Derivatives
6. Phenolic Compounds: Notably high in quantity.
7. Flavonoids
8. Quercitrin
9. 6,8-di-C-methylcapillarisin: A newly identified chromone.
10. Ferulic Acid
11. Rutin
12. Gallic Acid
13. Chlorogenic Acid

These phytochemicals contribute to Allspice’s unique flavor profile, medicinal properties, and potential applications in pharmaceutical industries.


1. “Phytochemical Analysis of Leaf Extracts of Pimenta dioica(L.) and their in vitro Antioxidant and Cytotoxic Activity” –;
2. “Isolation and identification of three new chromones from the leaves of Pimenta dioica with cytotoxic, oestrogenic and anti-oestrogenic effects” –
3. “Phytochemicals content, antioxidant and hypoglycaemic activities of commercial nutmeg mace (Myristica fragrans L.) and pimento (Pimenta dioica (L.) Merr.)” –
4. “Phytochemical and physicochemical profiling of Pimenta dioica (L.) extracts using diverse solvents and drying methods: A comprehensive scientific investigation” –


Contraindications and Safety of Allspice (Pimenta dioica)

Contraindications and Safety Concerns:

1. Allergic Reactions: Individuals with a known allergy to Allspice or its components should avoid its use.
2. Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Due to insufficient data on the safety of Allspice during pregnancy and lactation, it is advisable to avoid its use during these periods.
3. Interaction with Medications: Allspice contains eugenol, which may interact with certain medications. It is important to consult with a healthcare provider before using Allspice if you are on medication.
4. Surgical Concerns: Due to its potential effect on blood sugar levels and blood clotting, patients scheduled for surgery should discontinue the use of Allspice at least two weeks prior to the scheduled date.
5. Gastrointestinal Issues: In some individuals, excessive consumption of Allspice may cause gastrointestinal irritation or discomfort.
6. Endocrine Effects: Some studies suggest that Allspice may have estrogenic effects, which could be a concern for individuals with hormone-sensitive conditions.

General Recommendations:

Moderation in Use: Allspice should be used in moderation, particularly in culinary applications, to avoid potential adverse effects.
Consultation with Healthcare Providers: Individuals with pre-existing health conditions or those taking prescription medications should consult with a healthcare provider before using Allspice.
Awareness of Individual Sensitivities: Be aware of personal health conditions and sensitivities that might be affected by the use of Allspice.


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