Black Pepper, Piper nigrum

Piper nigrum is a flowering vine species. The plant may also be commonly referred to as Black Pepper. The species belongs to the Piperaceae family. It is indigenous to south India; however the plant is widely cultivated worldwide. The fruit, often referred to as its drupe, is sought after and dried. The spice or seasoning is used as the common, table black pepper. To date, Vietnam produces the largest amount of pepper, exporting 34% of the entire world’s pepper supply. P. nigrum may be prepared many ways producing various pepper types. Black, white, green, orange, red and pink pepper produce very different flavor profiles and go through varying processes.

The vine grows up to 13 feet tall. P. nigrum plant’s height is dependent on its surrounding trees, poles or trellises, which the plant uses for support. Its leaves grow between 2 to 4 inches long and 1.2 to 2.4 inches wide. Flowers bloom on flower spikes growing between 2.75 and 6 inches long. Its fruit or drupes are developed in the clusters. Harvesting begins before the plant is fully mature, as soon as one or two fruits begin to turn reddish in color.

Image Caption: Black Pepper (Piper nigrum). Credit: J.M. Garg/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)