Throughout the world, pepper is considered the queen of spices. There are many different species of pepper depending on its origin and its type of cultivation. Today we are going to talk about Piper nigrum. This plant belongs to the Piperaceae family and is cultivated for its fruits that give a particular spice known throughout the world as pepper. This genus has about 700 species, although only some are used to get pepper. It is a plant native to south western India and is found in areas with a tropical climate and spontaneously in China.
In this article we are going to tell you all the characteristics, properties and cultivation of the Piper nigrum.
It is a type of semi-creeper perennial plant with an abusive bearing. It is usually a plant that measures approximately about 4-5 tall and has rounded branches. What stands out about the branches is that they are smarter and have some fairly wide knots. Its leaves are oval and lanceolate. The color is deep green and they are not very wide. These are very sharp leaves that have a thick layer of fluff on the underside. The leaves, although sharp, have an elongated shape. The average size of the leaves is between 5-18 centimeters long and 2-12 centimeters wide. Its petiole is 1-4 centimeters long.
As for its flowers, they are of the hermaphrodite type. They have two stamens and an onicular ovary. This type of ovaries has the main characteristic of being able to produce a single ovum. This means that the flowers can only develop a single seed. The flowers stand out for being of a small size, although of a very beautiful white color and perfumed. They do not have a petiole but are collected in inflorescences of spikes 5 to 20 centimeters long.
The fruits of this plant are small berries of a very small size and do not have a petiole. They only contain a seed that is initially green in color, although it turns yellow and then red during maturation. Once they reach maturity and become dry, they have variable dimensions ranging from 0.3-0.6 centimeters in diameter. Depending on the state of maturity of the fruits when they are harvested and the type of preparation, we can have many varieties of pepper.
Varieties of Piper nigrum
We are going to do a review of the main varieties of pepper that exist.
The first is black pepper. It is a classic and is caused by the fact that the fruits are collected when they are green. When these green or even yellowish fruits are left to dry in the sun, about 7 days pass and they acquire the black color and this wrinkled appearance. It’s about the variety of Piper nigrum that more itches. In addition, for proper drying it is necessary to place the fruits in suitable dryers for a sufficient time. If you put it in reapers, it only takes a few hours for this fruit to acquire its black color and spicy properties. However, if they are left to dry in the sun naturally, they will take an average of a week to achieve this look.
The second best known variety of Piper nigrum it is white pepper. To get this type of pepper you will need to pick the berries when they are ripe. They have to be soaked in water for at least a week. After this period of time the external parts of the pericarp of the fruit can be parked and rubbed off much easier. The rest are left to dry in the sun for a few days and will become the classic whitish grain that we know.
The difference it has from black pepper is that the peel is sold as peel in powder form and It has a dark brown color with a very pungent smell and taste. It also differs in that it has an odor greater than that of black pepper with a more pungent taste. It is usually sold by the name of white pepper or broken pepper.
Green and red pepper
This variety of Piper nigrum it is obtained by extracting itself from the green fruit. It is allowed to dry quickly so that it can be preserved in brine or vinegar. It should also be ground well. Cute features less spicy is than black pepper but much more aromatic.
Red pepper is collected when the fruits are very ripe. However, this type of pepper is much less widespread.
Cultivation of Piper nigrum
Since it is a rustic plant, it does not need great care to be able to grow and bear fruit correctly. Only to take some aspects into account. First of all is the weather and the location. It is a plant that does well in tropical climates. They are usually found at altitudes below 1000 meters above sea level. Most species need a lot of heat. More or less they are understood in temperatures between 25-30 degrees. They need a lot of light and high humidity with good ventilation. Thus, it is interesting to guarantee a relative humidity of between 60-90%. In order for the annual rainfall of the climate where we live to be able to develop correctly, it must be around 1500-2500mm.
One of the disadvantages of this plant is that it does not tolerate long periods of drought well. They can grow well in alluvial soils, fertile and rich in organic matter. The characteristic that the soil must have is that they have good drainage. This is because the plant does not tolerate puddles since they are the cause of rottenness of the roots. Also avoid heavy clay soils. The pH of the soil should be around 5.5-6.5 values so they are slightly acidic.
In order to multiply Piper nigrumthe most used technique is through cuttings. It can also be propagated by seed, but it is not used for commercial purposes due to its slow growth. It usually lasts between 15-20 years giving annual harvests. In each year it can give between 6 and 8 harvests.
I hope that with this information you can learn more about the Piper nigrum.