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January 2011
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Black pepper vine – also known as Piper Nigrum

Black pepper vine is also known as Piper Nigrum in Latin and it belongs to the family Piperaceae. It is also known as pepper and Black pepper. It is a native of Malabar which is in the Western Coast of South India. Black pepper plants are perennials that can produce flowers up to seven years. This is a spreading tropical vine and the flowers are small which are borne on pendulous spikes which are of 4-8 centimeters length at leaf nodes. The spikes grow in length with maturity. There are 20-30 spikes on each stem. The berries when become red, indicate a fully grown corn. It has leaves that are heart-shaped.
This plant need moist and well drained soil, rich in organic matter but overwatering should be avoided. It is a pungent and an aromatic herb and a spice that is used all over the world. It was earlier used as collateral or even currency being very valuable. It is a flowering vine and its fruit is dried and used as an herb, spice and seasoning purposes. The fruit is small and dark red upon maturity and has a single seed. There are different types of peppercorns like black, white, green and red to reddish-brown. The white pepper is known to be the most pungent of all and green pepper is the least pungent of all. The black and green peppers are most aromatic of all and green pepper has herbaceous fragrance. The red variety of pepper has a sugary-sweet taste and pungent and taste of black pepper. In European food, dried ground pepper is common among spices and it is used as a medicine.
It is produced from the green unripe berries of the pepper plant. These berries are cooked briefly and then once the cell ruptures, they are dried in sun. Once the fruits are dry, they are called black peppercorns. The seed only with the fruit cover removed is the white pepper which is removed by softening the fruit cover by soaking in water. Green pepper is obtained just like the black ones but retaining the green color by treating with Sulphur dioxide or freeze-drying.

Growing conditions of Black pepper vine

• These vines grow well in rich, moist soils and in well-drained areas.
• Add organic matter and fertilize it to enhance nutrients.
• The soil pH should be from 5.5-6.5.
• Add lime if soil is acidic and if it is basic add Sulphur to meet pH requirements.
• This plant needs partial shade.
• The temperature should be 75-85 degrees.
• Sow the seeds ½ inch deep in soil.
• The root system is extensive for this plant so sowing indoors needs at least 3 gallons of soil.
• About 6-8 months the plant flowers.
• Do not overwater the plant and fertilize occasionally.
• To pick up pepper, pick the green and unripe fruits.
• Boil them and dry to get black pepper.

Care for Black pepper vine

• This plant needs partial shade.
• Add organic matter and fertilize it to enhance nutrients.
• These vines grow well in rich, moist soils and in well-drained areas.
• These vines cannot tolerate frost.
• If dark brown and slightly raised spots up to about 1/4 inch diameter appear on leaves, stems and fruits, then it is a sign of bacterial spot disease.

Images of this plant.

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