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Black Pepper
Piperaceae
Piper nigrum


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Vine


Piperaceae Family

Piper Genus

Location

Native to South India. Today it is cultivated all over the tropics as a commercial crop. India is the biggest producer

Physical Description
Growing to four metres in height on supporting trees, poles, or trellises. It is a spreading vine, rooting readily where trailing stems touch the ground. The leaves are alternate, entire, five to ten centimetres long and three to six centimetres broad. The flowers are small, produced on pendulous spikes four to eight centimetres long at the leaf nodes, the spikes lengthening to seven to 15 centimeters as the fruit matures. Competing plants are cleared away, leaving only sufficient trees to provide shade and permit free ventilation. The roots are covered in leaf mulch and manure, and the shoots are trimmed twice a year. On dry soils the young plants require watering every other day during the dry season for the first three years.


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Piperaceae
Piperales
Piperales
Magnoliidae
Class of Magnolias
Mesangiospermae
Mesangiospermae
Half Capsule Seed Division
Magnoliophyta
Magnoliophyta
Magnolia Division
Spermatophytes
Spermatophytes
Seed Plants
Euphyllophytina
Real Land Plants
Polysporangiates
Multiple Spore Sub-Kingdom
Stomatophytes
Stomatophytes
Air Pores Sub-Kingdom
Embryophytes
Embryophytes
Multicellular Land Plants
Streptobionta
Streptobionta
Multicellular Plants
Plantae
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Eukaryota
Eukaryota
Cells with a Nucleus


General Information

Pepper has been used as a spice in India since prehistoric times. Peppercorns were a much prized trade good, often referred to as "black gold" and used as a form of commodity money. The term "peppercorn rent" still exists today.

The ancient history of black pepper is often interlinked with (and confused with) that of long pepper, the dried fruit of closely related Piper longum. The Romans knew of both and often referred to either as just "piper".

Medicinal Uses: Black peppercorns figure in remedies in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani medicine in India. The 5th century Syriac Book of Medicines prescribes pepper (or perhaps long pepper) for such illnesses as constipation, diahhrea, earache, gangreen, heart disease, hernia, hoarseness, indigestion, insect bites, insomnia, joint pain, liver problems, lung disease, oral abscesses, sunburn, tooth decay, and toothaches. Various sources from the 5th century onward also recommend pepper to treat eye problems, often by applying salves or poultices made with pepper directly to the eye. There is no current medical evidence that any of these treatments has any benefit; pepper applied directly to the eye would be quite uncomfortable and possibly damaging.

Food Uses: Both black and white pepper are widely used in South Asian savoury cuisine, in all stages of cooking and as a table condiment. It is used in sauces, meat dishes and snack foods. The oil and oleoresin is used to produce convenience foods and sometimes in perfumery. Of secondary importance is the use of preserved immature green pepper or fresh pepper fruits. They are eaten more like a vegetable

Other Notes: Black pepper is also an effective deterrent to insects. A solution of one-half teaspoon freshly ground pepper to one quart of warm water sprayed on plants can be toxic to ants, potato bugs, silverfish, and even roaches and moths. A sprinkling of ground pepper will also deter insect paths in non-garden areas.

Black peppercorns were found stuffed in the nostrils of Ramesses II, placed there as part of the mummification rituals shortly after his death in 1213 BC. Little else is known about the use of pepper in ancient Egypt, nor how it reached the Nile from India.

As a medicine, Pepper appears in the Buddhist Samannaphala Sutta, chapter five, as one of the few medicines allowed to be carried by a monk

Around 100 C.E. the Roman Empire established a direct sea route to the pepper markets of the Malabar Coast in India. Knowledge of the monsoon cycle made these sea routes possible.

Cultivation: Black pepper is grown in soil that is neither too dry nor susceptible to flooding, moist, well-drained and rich in organic matter

Propagation: The plants are propagated by cuttings about 40 to 50 centimetres long, tied up to neighbouring trees or climbing frames at distances of about two metres apart; trees with rough bark are favoured over those with smooth bark, as the pepper plants climb rough bark more readily





Black Pepper




Black Pepper
Curtiss Botanical Magazine London, 1787-1800 engraving by Lansdown Guilding [Image in the public Domain]



Black Pepper
Koehlers Medicinal-Plants 1887 [Image in Public Domain]

Comment: Black Pepper, Piper nigrum

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