86. Amomum macrospermum, Smith.—Large-seeded Guinea Amomum.
Zingiber Meleguetta, Gaertner de Fructib, vol. i. p. 34, pi. xii. fig. 1; Fructus Cajeputi, Trew, Commercium Litterarium, ann. 1737, Norimbergae, p. 129, tab. 1, figs. 7-11 j also Herb. Blackwellianum emend. et auctum, vol. iii. cent vi, tab. 584, figs. 9-13, Norimb. 1773.—Native of Sierra Leone.
The capsule (fructus cajeputi, Trew; cardamomum bandaense, T. W. C. Martius; grand cardamome de Gaertner, Guibourt; mabooboo of the natives of Sierra Leone), [Sir J. E. Smith (Rees's Cyclop. Suppl.) states, on the authority of Afzelius, that the African name is "Mabooboo." But Nyberg (Remedia Guineensia, Upsal, 1813) says that the name "Mabubu" is applied to a species which he calls Amomum latifolium, whose seeds, in size, shape, and colour, agree with grape seeds.] is ovate, pointed, somewhat striated, about two inches long, and six lines broad, with a corrugated beak.
The seeds (semina cajuputi, Trew) are ovate, or nearly globular, or somewhat oblong, variously angular, scarcely larger than grains of paradise, smooth, polished, greenish-gray, or lead coloured, with a strong umbilicated scar at their base, with a whitish or pale-yellow margin; flavour slightly aromatic. Smith says that Gaertner's figure represents them scarcely half large erough. This statement, however, does not apply to the seeds of my specimens.
The seeds yield, by distillation, a volatile oil. Cartheuser [Dissert. nonnullae select. Physico-Chem. ae Medicae, Francof. 1775.] obtained from half a pound of them a drachm and a half of a pale yellowish, aromatic, camphoraceous oil, resembling, but less fragrant and penetrating than, cajuput oil. Trew erroneously supposed that these seeds were the source of the cajuput oil of commerce, and hence have arisen the erroneous denominations of "fructus et semina cajuputi," applied to the fruit and seeds of this species.
The seeds are aromatic, but are much inferior to those of the Malabar cardamom.
I have received from Dr. Daniell specimens of the fruit of this or some closely allied species growing at Gambia and Cape St. Mary. One of the specimens consists of a stalk five inches long, supporting two capsules, and clothed with bracts. The seeds are angular, and lead-coloured. Dr. Daniell tells me that the natives of Africa suck the acidulous pulp of the fruit.