As early as the first century AD, the Indians and Romans mention nutmeg as a medicine. In the Middle Ages it was traded by the Arabs. The lucrative business passed to the hands of the Portuguese in the 16th century, then to the Dutch in the 18th century. Their monopoly only ended when a Frenchman smuggled a few plants away from Indonesia to Madagascar, where they flourished. Finally nutmeg was bought to the island of Grenada in 1843. Along with Indonesia, Grenada remains one of the top producers worldwide today.
Over its long history as a part of Grenadian life, a colourful folklore surrounding nutmeg has developed as well. Claims of the folk remedies include its ability to enhance a man’s virility, keep away boils, and to treat broken bones and rheumatism. Nutmeg and spice production has been part of Grenada’s heritage and traditions for over 100 years. Given the high quality of spices the island produces, together with its significant trade in spices, especially in nutmegs, on the international market, Grenada has become renowned as the ‘Isle of Spice’. For decades, the island tourist destination has been promoted as the land of spices with the emblem of the nutmeg on all promotional materials and memorabilia.