Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Piper nigrum Linnaeus

Kingdom:Plantae
Phylum/Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Magnoliopsida
Order:Piperales
Family:Piperaceae
Genus:Piper
Species:P. nigrum
Common Names:Pepper, Pepper-vine, Lada
Status:Cultivated only

Description

Perennial woody climber with prominent stem nodes and aerial roots. The simple, alternate leaves are broad, shiny and heart-shaped.

Its flowers found on spikes are small and white. They give rise to small, globular, single-seeded berries (5 mm) that turn from green to bright red when ripe.

Read more about the Piperales order.
Read more about the Piperaceae family.

Distribution

Native to India

Human Uses

The commercial black pepper is made from the dried and ground unripe green fruits whereas white pepper is made from the seeds only, with the fruit flesh (mesocarp) removed. Pepper was commercially planted in Singapore in the 19th century, usually in association with gambier.

Pepper is a widely used traditional stimulant in Asia for treating headache, colic, rheumatism, menstrual pains, improving flow of urine, gastrointestinally-related problems such as diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera, flatulence, gastric symptoms, vomiting, and removing excessive gas. White pepper is used to treat cholera, stomachache and even malaria. On the other hand, black pepper has a wide range of medicinal use including treatment of adenitis, cancer, cholera, cold, colic, diarrhoea, dysentery, dysmenorrhoea, dysuria, furuncles, headache, gravel, nausea, and even poisoning due to fish, mushrooms or shellfish.

Certain people are, however, allergic to pepper.

References

Chong, K. Y., H. T. W. Tan & R. T. Corlett, 2009. A Checklist of the Total Vascular Plant Flora of Singapore: Native, Naturalised and Cultivated Species. Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, Singapore. 273 pp.

Corlett, R. T., 2011. Pepper. P. 410. In: Ng, P. K. L., R. T. Corlett & H. T. W. Tan (editors), Singapore Biodiversity. An Encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development, Editions Didier Millet, Singapore, 552 pp.

Keng, H., 1990. The Concise Flora of Singapore: Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons. Singapore University Press, Singapore. 222 pp.

Koh, H. L., T. K. Chua & C. H. Tan, 2009. A Guide to Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated, Scientific and Medicinal Approach. World Scientific Publishing, Singapore. 292 pp.

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