pimento or allspice, common names for a tree ( Pimenta dioica or P. officinalis ) of the family Myrtaceae (myrtle family) cultivated in the West Indies for its dried unripe berries, used medicinally and as a spice (also called pimento or allspice). The spice supposedly combines the flavors of several other spices, hence the name; it is used chiefly in pickles and relishes. The leaves and berries yield an essential oil used for flavoring, e.g., in Benedictine and other liqueurs. In America the names pimento and allspice are also applied to plants of other families: pimento to the large, sweet Spanish pepper (Span. pimento ) of the nightshade family, and allspice to several aromatic shrubs, e.g., the Carolina allspice ( Calycanthus floridus ), a cultivated ornamental, and the wild allspice, or spicebush ( Lindera benzoin ), of the family Lauraceae (laurel family). Pimento is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Myrtales, family Myrtaceae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.