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Pimenta racemosa Bay Rum Tree   Myrtaceae

Bay Rum Tree, Pimenta racemosa

Bay Rum Tree, Pimenta racemosa

Pimenta racemosa, Caryophyllus racemosus
Family: Myrtaceae
Bay Rum Tree
Origin: West Indies
big tree, small tree 10-20 ft, full sun, semi-shade, regular water

This is a small sized tree related to the Allspice, with leaves containing and aromatic oil that somewhat resembles clove oil. This essential oil is distilled from the leaves and is used in perfumes. A type of cologne named 'Bay Rum' was historically made in the early 20th century by distilling the oil using rum and water, hence the common name of the plant. The cologne has its spicy notes from the bay and its smoky, woody tones from the rum aged in casks. The essential oil of bay rum has two distinct fractions upon distillation. The first fraction distills out quickly and is a light weight oil that floats on water. The second fraction distills more slowly and is a heavy weight oil that sinks in water. The two oils are recombined to make oleum pimentae foliorum, or 'oil of pimento leaves'.

Bay Rum inflorescence has small white flowers resembling tiny bouquets of sparkly cotton candy. They are followed by a small black ovoid fruit. The fruit is not edible, the bay rum (used for cologne) and essential oil itself are toxic and should not be ingested. However, leaves of Pimenta racemosa can be used in cooking and tea.

For generations, Bay Rum has been used in folk medicine for sore muscles, strains, and sprains. Later it was discovered that the essential oil contains a diterpene that has anti-bacterial properties.

If you are looking for a slow-growing, columnar tree with a mature height of 20 ft, the Bay Rum, a magical charmer with healing properties, is the best choice. If you rub the leaves, the fragrance will linger with you all day, the plant will never run out of fragrance.

Plant care and hardiness is similar to Allspice. Grow this tree in full sun or light shade, and provide regular watering.

Pimenta racemosa var. citrfolia "Lemon Scent" (Lemon Bay Rum Tree, Citrus Bay) is a hard-to-find variety. All plant parts have strong lemon scent, very pleasant and relaxing. This cultivar can be propagated from seeds, but only 10-20 percent of the seedlings come true to type, others come out as regular Bay Rum; cuttings are hard to root. The Citrus Bay plants seem to be much hardier than regular Bay Rum and have better resistance to leaf fungus.