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Piper nigrum - L.

Common Name Black Pepper
Family Piperaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Not known
Range E. Asia - Indian Subcontinent.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade
Piper nigrum Black Pepper

Piper nigrum Black Pepper


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Piper nigrum or commonly known as Black Pepper is a perennial flowering woody vine growing about 8-10 m long and commonly found in East Asia. The leaves are thick and leathery, and arranged alternately. It is widely cultivated for its fruits, known as peppercorns, which are usually dried then ground into powder and used as a spice and food flavoring. The fruits lower fever, improve digestion, and can be used as disinfectant. The seeds, on the other hand, is used for indigestion, food poisoning, cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, vomiting caused by cold, nasal congestion, sinusitis, epilepsy, and inflammation of the skin. The essential oil is used for rheumatic pain and toothache. It is also used in perfumery and as food flavoring.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of climber
Piper nigrum is an evergreen Climber growing to 6 m (19ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil. The plant is not wind tolerant.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Condiment  Oil

The pungent fruits, known as peppercorns, are dried, ground into a powder known as black pepper, and used as a condiment[296 ]. A hot flavour. The globose, red fruit is 4 - 6mm in diameter[418 ]. A milder flavoured spice, known as white pepper, can be obtained if the outer coverings of the fruit are removed[301 ]. Unripe green fruits are pickled in vinegar and used as a relish[301 ]. An essential oil obtained from the seed is used as a flavouring various foods[46 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antibacterial  Antidiarrhoeal  Antirheumatic  Antiseptic  Cholera  Dysentery  Epilepsy  Expectorant  
Febrifuge  Odontalgic  Stimulant  Stomachic

Black pepper fruits contain an essential oil (comprising beta-bisbolene, camphene, beta-caryophyllene and many other terpenes and sesquiterpenes), up to 9% alkaloids (especially piperine which is responsible for the acrid taste), about 11% protein and small quantities of minerals[254 ]. They are a pungent, aromatic, warming herb that lowers fever, is antiseptic and improves digestion[238 , 254 ]. Black pepper is regarded as a stimulating expectorant in Western and Ayurvedic medicine, and as a tranquilizing and anti-emetic in Chinese medicine[238 ]. The seed is used internally to treat indigestion and wind in western herbalism[238 ]. In Chinese medicine it is used as a warming herb to treat stomach chills, food poisoning, cholera, dysentery, diarrhoea and vomiting caused by cold[238 ]. It is used externally in Ayurvedic medicine to treat nasal congestion, sinusitis, epilepsy and skin inflammations[238 ]. The essential oil is antiseptic, antibacterial and febrifuge[254 ]. It has been used to ease rheumatic pain and toothache[254 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

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Other Uses

Essential  Houseplant  Oil  Teeth

Other Uses: An essential oil obtained from the fruits is used in perfumery to add bouquets of oriental types producing spicy notes[46 ].

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the hot and humid lowland tropics, where it grows best at elevations up to 500 metres, but can be grown up to 2,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 - 35°c, but can tolerate 10 - 40°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,500 - 4,000mm, but tolerates 2,000 - 5,500mm[418 ]. Grows best in sheltered positions in semi-shade[296 ]. Prefers a neutral soil rich in organic matter[296 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 7, tolerating 5 - 7.5[418 ]. Level ground is most suitable for the production of pepper, prov ided there is no flooding, but it is often grown in rolling country or on hill slopes of varying steepness[418 ]. The plant begins to bear in 3 - 4 years, can reach full production after 7 years and has an economic life of about 12 - 20 years[418 ]. Optimum yields at low capital input are 6 tonnes per hectare of the unprocessed (green) peppers; 2 tonnes of the sundried (black) peppers; or 1.67 tonnes of the washed and dried (white) peppers[418 ]. In gardens with higher inputs, yields may be 8 - 9 tonnes of green pepper in the first harvest and 12 - 20 tonnes in the sixth or seventh harvest[418 ]. The root system can be 4 metres or more deep[418 ]. Flowering Time: Mid Summer. Bloom Color: White/Near White. Spacing: 12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m).

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - Cuttings - very easy[296 ]. Use shoots of wood, about 45cm long, taken from parts of the plant that have already flowered[296 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Black pepper, Gol morich, Hapusha, Pimenta negra, Kalamari, Kalamorich, Kalimirch, Kalomirich, Kare menasu, Kurumulaku, Lada hitam, Lada puteh, Lado ketek, Lado kobon, Maricha, Merica, Micha, Milagu, Mire, Miriyala tige, Morshaidi, Nallamulaku, Pappaa, Pedes, Pepe nero, Pfeffer, Phrik tai, Pimienta, Poivre, Priktai, Ushana, White pepper, black pepper oil, black pepper or white pepper, bîberî res, common pepper, dehydrated green pepper, filfil abîa?, filfil aswad, filfil siyah, fructus piperis, fructus piperis nigri, fulfil siyah, galmirich, golmorich, green pepper, hu jiao, hujiao, heihújiao, kalamirch, kalamiri, kalamorich, kalaorich, kalimirch, kalimirich, kalimori, karimonaru, karumulaku, ka?i, kosho, kurumulaku, kayam, k???a, lada, hitam, lada, putih, madagascar pepper, malaiya?i, marica, marica (fruit), marich, maricha, marichamu, menaru, milagu, miriyalu, mi?aku (fruit), morich, maricam, oil of black pepper, oleoresin black pepper, pepe, peppar, pepper, pepper fruit, pepper, black, pepper, whole or ground - black pepper, pepper, whole or ground - white pepper, pepper|gammiris, pfeffer, pfeffer, schwarz, pimenta, pimenta do reino, pimenta-da-índia, pimenta-do-reino, pimienta, pipal gol, piper albi fructus, piper nigri fructus, piper nigrum, piperis fructus, poivre, poivre blanc, poivre noir, poivrier noir, usana, vallicam, vellaja, vellakaia, white pepper.

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Asia, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burma, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central Africa, Central America, China, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, East Africa, Ethiopia, Fiji, Guyana, Hawaii, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Laos, Madagascar, Malaysia, Myanmar, Northeastern India, Pacific, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, SE Asia, Singapore, South America, Sri Lanka, Thailand, USA, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Africa, West Indies,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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