Piper nigrum

Piper nigrum – Pepper.

Piper nigrum is a vine that can grow up to 10 m high.
The older stems become thick and woody.
Short adventitious roots growing off the stems anchor it to supports.
If trailing stems touch the ground they will root.

The simple leaves are alternately arranged along the stem.
They are up to 10 cm long and 6 cm wide with a tapering tip.
They are a shiny dark green above and paler underneath.
There are 2 or 3 pairs of lateral veins off the midrib.

Inflorescences are a spike with clusters of tiny flowers on the end of a drooping stalk.
Male and female flowers are on separate plants.
The spikes arise from the leaf axils and can be up to 15 cm long.
There can be up to 100 or more white to yellow-green flowers on each spike.
Flowers are spirally arranged and those at the base open first.

The commonly grown cultivars are bisexual with male and female flowers on the same plant.
Flowers have no sepals or petals.
There are 4 basal bracts and 2 to 4 stamens 1 mm high.
The central ovary has 1 style and 3 to 5 white stigmas.

The fruit, called peppercorns, are drupes – a single seed with a fleshy coating.
They are 6 mm and ripen from green to a dark red.
Dried seeds are the main source of pepper.