Pepper Tree

Pepper tree(Piper nigrum) is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning, and is called black peppercorns. Peppercorns are dried and used to make black pepper. You can grow this tropical tree in containers and bring them indoor in the fall.

Peppercorns take up to 45 days to germinate!

peppertree, pepper tree

Planting Instructions:

Black pepper requires rich soil, plenty of water, humid conditions, and partial shade. Plant seeds indoors ½” deep. For proper germination the seeds must be kept damp and remain at 50% humidity or higher and 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. After seeds have germinated, keep soil moist and from drying out. Transplant in larger pots as seedling grows.

Pepper plants are climbers which grow to a height or length of 10 m or more. When its main stem is established, it grows lots of side shoots to create a bushy column. The plants form short roots, called adventitious roots, which connect to surrounding supports. Black pepper is usually considered as native to Kerala, although it is cultivated in many tropical regions. Leaves – arranged alternately on the stems. They are shaped like pine and taper towards the tip. They are dark green and shiny above but paler green below.

Flowers – grow in clusters and is known as spikes. Between 50 to 150 whitish to yellow-green flowers are produced on a spike.

Fruits – the flowers develop into round, berry-like fruits which is called green pepper. There may be 50-60 fruits on each spike. They grow to a diameter of 4 to 6 mm, each containing a single seed. Green Pepper turn to red color as they ripen,and these berries are picked when either green or red to produce black and white pepper.

It takes 3-4 years before the first fruit can be harvested. Plants are most productive when about 8 years old but will continue bearing for up to 30 years.The harvest begins as soon as one or two fruits at the base of the spikes begin to turn red, and before the fruit is mature, but when full grown and still hard; if allowed to ripen, the fruits lose pungency, and ultimately fall off and are lost. The spikes are collected and spread out to dry in the sun, then the peppercorns are stripped off the spikes.

The distinctive “hot” and “spicy” flavor of black pepper derives from two of its chemical components. The essential oil, which gives pepper its aroma, can compose up to 3% of the berry. The spiciness comes from its alkaloids, which vary from 2 to 7.4% of the berry’s composition.

The other “pepper” varieties include pink peppercorns, long pepper, malagueta peppers,and Sichuan pepper; none of these is botanically related to black pepper.

Like many eastern spices, pepper was historically both a seasoning and a medicine. Long pepper, being stronger, was often the preferred medication, but both were used.

Peppercorns (dried black pepper) are, by monetary value, the most widely traded spice in the world, accounting for 20 percent of all spice imports in 2002. The price of pepper can be volatile, and this figure fluctuates a great deal year to year.

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