Pepperberry Facts - Knowledgebase Question

New York, NY
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Question by hwy1
August 8, 1999
Can you tell me some interesting facts about the pepperberry ie: history, cultivation, etc.?

Answer from NGA
August 8, 1999
Pepperberry (Piper nigrum), is a perennial climbing vine of the family Piperaceae indigenous to the Malabar Coast of India, and a hotly pungent spice is made from its berries. One of the earliest spices known, pepper is probably the most widely used spice in the world today. The best Pepper of commerce comes from Malabar. Pepper is mentioned by Roman writers in the fifth century. It is said that Attila demanded among other items 3,000 lb. of Pepper in ransom for the city of Rome. Untrained, the plant will climb 20 or more feet, but for commercial purposes it is restricted to 12 feet. It is a perennial with a round, smooth, woody stem, with articulations, swelling near the joints and branched; the leaves are entire, broadly ovate, acuminate, coriaceous, smooth, with seven nerves; colour dark green and attached by strong sheath-like foot-stalks to joints of branches. Flowers small, white, sessile, covering a tubular spadix; fruits globular, red berries when ripe, and surface coarsely wrinkled. The plant is propagated by cuttings and grown at the base of trees with a rough, prickly bark to support them. Between three or four years after planting they commence fruiting and their productiveness ends about the fifteenth year. The berries are collected as soon as they turn red and before they are quite ripe; they are then dried in the sun. In England, for grinding they mix Peppers of different origin. Malabar for weight, Sumatra for color, and Penang for strength. Pepper has an aromatic odor, pungent and bitterish taste.

For additional information about the plant, visit this interesting website:

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