Piper nigrum

Primary tabs

Piper nigrum


Shrub sometimes with scrambling branches or liana. Stem glabrous. Petiole 1-2 cm long, glabrous, vaginate to apex; blade not scabrous, not glandular-dotted, elliptic, ovate to broadly ovate, 8-19 x 5-10 cm, apex acute to short-acuminate, base equal or almost equally attached to petiole, subacute to obtusish, glabrous; palmately-pinnately veined, secondary veins 2-3 per side, originating from lower 1/4 of primary vein, flat to prominulous above, prominulous to prominent below, tertiary veins reticulate. Inflorescence pendent; peduncle 1-2.5 cm long; spike 5-10 cm long, apiculate or not; floral bracts glabrous. Infructescence pendent, 12 cm long, more than 0.5 cm thick. Fruits globose, 5-6 mm long, glabrous, red or black, stigmas 2-3, sessile.


Southern America, W India present
Origin W India; cultivated in Brazil (introduced in 1930) and the West Indies; 10 collections studied (SU: 1; FG: 9).

Common Name

English: pepper


Pepper is the most used spice in the world, although it contains several contents causing hypoglycaemic effects in humans. To obtain "black pepper" the unripe fruits are collected. During the drying proces its colour changes from green to black. To produce "white pepper" fruits are allowed to mature further, then soaked in (streaming) water. The mesocarp is then removed. In Suriname powder of pepper plus salt and lemon juice is said to alleviate coughs by East Indian people (Raghoenandan, Internal report BBS).


Hardly any recent collections of pepper have been reported.
Two other spicy pipers are mentioned below. No collections have been reported. They are certainly known and used in the Guianas:
  • Piper betle L.
  • Piper cubeba L.f.