Piper avellanum

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Piper avellanum


Shrub or subshrub to 2 m tall, densely short crisp-pubescent, hairs to 0.2 mm long. Petiole 0.3-1.3 cm long, vaginate to apex, often conspicuously winged, green or maroon; blade not conspicuously glandular-dotted, lance-elliptic or lanceolate-oblong or oblanceolate, 7-18 x 3-7.5 cm, margin ciliate, apex short-acuminate or acute, base unequally attached to petiole difference 0.1-0.5 cm, rounded, obtuse or subacute, glabrous or sparsely short-pubescent above, sparsely to densely so below; pinnately veined, secondary veins 5-6(-8) per side, originating from lower 3/4 of primary vein. Inflorescence pendent; peduncle slender, 0.5-1 cm long, pubescent; spike 3-5.5(-10) cm long, white, yellow or green, occasionally apiculate or not; rachis glabrous; floral bracts densely marginally fringed. Fruits trigonous or depressed globose, to 2 mm in diam., glabrous and papillose, stigmas 3, sessile.


Guianas present, Southern America: Venezuela (Venezuela present)
Venezuela and the Guianas; 90 collections studied (GU: 31; SU: 20; FG: 40).

Common Name

Creole: warakaba bush


Sap of crushed leaves is said to be used against snake-bites in the NW district of Guyana (Van Andel, pers. comm.).


For distinguishing characters with Piper adenandrum see note to the latter.
Piper rugosum Lam., Tabl. Encycl. 1: 81. 1791 was based on two specimens, one of which originated from French Guiana, the other from S Domingo. The French Guiana specimen, collected in Cayenne by Stoupy, has not been located. Even though Lemée (1955: 479) accepted it as the correct name of a French Guianan species, based on the poor description we assume that it fits within P. avellanum.
Yuncker (1957: 246) mentioned P. avellanum (Miq.) C. DC. var. angustifolium Trel. & Yunck., based on a Suriname collection by Weigelt s.n. (holotype PH). I suppose that it fits within the typical variety, but as I have not seen the collection I cannot add it to the synonyms. No further collections have been reported from the Guianas.
Piper gabrielianum, known only from the type collection, seems to be conspecific with P. avellanum. The specimen has the same kind of indument and other leaf characters. The spikes are too young to measure fruits. The lack of this character makes it difficult to place the taxon, but certainly does not support maintaining it separate.
See under P. paramaribense for a note on P. pertinax.