Also called Jamaica pepper, pepper, myrtle pepper, pimenta, Turkish Yenibahar, or newspice, is the dried unripe fruit (berries, used as a spice) of a midcanopy tree native to the Greater Antilles, southern Mexico, and Central America, now cultivated in many warm parts of the world. The name ‘allspice’ was coined as early as 1621 by the English, who thought it combined the flavour of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Several unrelated fragrant shrubs are called “Carolina allspice” (Calycanthus floridus), “Japanese allspice” (Chimonanthus praecox), or “wild allspice” (Lindera benzoin). “Allspice” is also sometimes used to refer to the herb costmary (Tanacetum balsamita).
The fruits are picked when green and unripe and are traditionally dried in the sun. When dry, they are brown and resemble large brown smooth peppercorns. The whole fruits have a longer shelf life than the powdered product and produce a more aromatic product when freshly ground before use.
Encountered by Christopher Columbus on the island of Jamaica during his second voyage to the New World, and named by Dr. Diego Álvarez Chanca. It was introduced into European and Mediterranean cuisines in the 16th century. It continued to be grown primarily in Jamaica, though a few other Central American countries produced the spice in comparatively small quantities.