Piper amalago

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Piper amalago

Description

Shrub, 2-4(-7) m tall. Stem glabrous or minutely pubescent on upper internodes. Prophyll covering shoot apex, 3-8 mm long. Petiole slender, 0.5-1 cm long, vaginate up to middle, glabrous or pubescent; blade lanceolate to rounded or subobovate, 8-11(-15) x 2.5-6(-10) cm, apex acuminate, base equally attached to petiole, acute to subcordate, glabrous or pubescent on veins below; palmately 5-7-veined, tertiary venation obscure. Inflorescence erect; peduncle 0.8-1.5 cm long, glabrous; spike 6-7 cm long, not apiculate; rachis minutely pubescent; floral bracts cucullate, glabrous; thecae divergent, dehiscing partially upward. Fruits ovoid, conical to apex, 1.5-2 mm long, ca. 1 mm in diam., glabrous or papillose, stigmas 3-4, sessile.

Distribution

Argentina: present C and S America: present Indo-Malayan region: present Southern America:, Paraguay (Paraguay present)
Indo-Malayan region; West Indies, C and S America, south to Argentina and Paraguay; 12 collections studied (GU: 2; FG: 3).

Notes

The name amalago is from Indian origin. Nicolson, Suresh & Manilal (Regnum Veg. 119: 207-208. 1988) described its nomenclatural history. The name could be from the Malayan ammulaka or ammuluku meaning man pepper. The original illustration appears to have only male spikes. Today it is called wild pepper, kattumulaku and is used throughout Kerala, India.
Several authors discerned varieties and formas in this rather widespread and variable species. The characters used to differentiate the varieties and formas were the amount of hairs and the more or less manifest presence of a structure at the very base of the leaf. The very few collections recorded from the Guianas are identified Piper amalago without infraspecific entities.