Black Pepper Overview
Piper nigrum is an evergreen, perennial vining climber in the pepper family, Piperaceae. Originating from Southern India, this plant is now cultivated commercially throughout the tropics. Also known by the names Peppercorn Plant, Black Pepper and Common Pepper, the fruits it produces are called peppercorns, from which the widely used spice and seasoning black pepper, green pepper and white pepper are created. These spices have a hot, pungent flavour and are widely used in cooking, black pepper is reported to have anti-fungal and anti-oxidant properties and has been used in traditional medicine to treat digestive issues. Typically growing to 10m in height or greater, this plant tends to form a central stem, then grows side shoots, creating a bushy column of foliage. Foliage is alternately arranged on stems, leaves are almond-shaped and taper towards the tip. Flowers are white to yellow-green in colour, arranged in clusters on spike structures, there are between 50-150 individual flowers on a spike. They develop into rounded, berry-like, drupe fruits, each containing a single seed, the fruits measure around 0.6cm and are coloured green when unripe, ripening to red. Usually, 50-60 fruits are produced per flowering spike, the fruits are picked at different development stages to produce different coloured peppers, in order of ripeness: green, black and white.