Kava, Piper methysticum

Piper methysticum is a shrub species. The species is more commonly referred to as Kava or Kava-kava. Its Latin name actually means “pepper, intoxicating” The plant is cultivated and used for its sedative and anesthetic properties.

P. methysticum is grown vastly in the Republic of Vanuatu, although for some time it was only grown in Hawaii, Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, Vanuatu and Tonga. It is fairly easy to cultivate; the plant needs partial shade, well-drained soil and air flow direct to its roots.

Kava or P. methysticum is used for various purposes; religious, medicinal, cultural and social. Most shrubs are appealing for the relaxing qualities the plant offers when prepared. Often P. methysticum is consumed by chewing, grinding, drying or pounding the plant’s roots. Drinks and sodas are laced with the finished root. There is a distinct smell and potent taste to the concoction. Kava is heavily regulated in a large number of countries that produce the plant.

Image Caption: Kava (Piper methysticum). Credit: Forest & Kim Starr/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)