Black pepper

Pepper, the king of all spices is considered as the oldest and best known spice in the world. The name pepper comes from the Sanskrit word 'pippali' which means berry. Native to Western Ghats in India, this perennial climbing vine is now widely cultivated not only in India but also in countries like Thailand, Africa, Brazil etc. It is ideal for planting in the ground as well as in a container. Pepper corns are very strong in aroma and taste and can be stored for many years without losing its flavor.

It is commonly used in all dishes as a very popular spice and in canned foods as a flavouring agent. It has medicinal properties for fighting colds, flu and infections, to energize, increase circulation, to warm and relieve muscle aches and stiffness etc.

Pepper vine grows to a height of about 10m. The woody stem is smooth but swollen at the joints. The dark green shiny leaves are broad and pointed (heart shaped), and arranged alternatively on the stem. The white, small flowers are borne in clusters in a slender spike and bears 50-60 small round green fruits, each about 1cm in diameter. When ripe, the fruits become yellowish red.

In India, Pepper is commonly cultivated as “homestead cultivation” growing it as a secondary crop interspersed with several other crops. Cultivation of pepper as a pure crop is also practiced though it is becoming rare. It is more so in Kerala State, which accounts for 97.4 per cent of the total area under the crop in the country.

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