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 Latin Name : Piper Nigrum Linn
 Family : Piperaceae
 Genus : Capsic
 Colour : Clear or Whitish to pale olive
 Common names : Black pepper, Green pepper, Pink pepper, White 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.

Propagation, Planting and Harvesting

Pepper is grown in all seasons through out the year. There are different varieties of pepper such as Betal pepper (Piper betle), Indian long pepper (Piper longum), Java long pepper (Piper retrofractum), Rough leaved pepper (Piper amalago) etc.

black Pepper

The plant prefers well drained loamy soils rich in organic matter with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. The plant requires partial shade but fairly high temperature and sufficient water. The plant can be kept in full sun but must be shaded during the heat of day to protect against sunscald. Too much heat can damage the fruit. They need a long season to ripen, so choose an early variety.

Propagation is usually by stem cuttings and also by seeds. The vine is usually grown near a tree so that the tree trunks will serve as a support or a pole is set near it for the vine to climb up. Water to keep the soil moist but not soggy. If buying a pepper plant, choose ones with dark green leaves with no blossoms or fruits. 

Pepper plants start bearing fruits 2-3 years after planting. The fruits are ready to be harvested 6-8 months after flowering. They are usually harvested while they are still green and the best time to pick them is when fruits lower down the spike begin to redden. But sometimes the fruits are allowed to ripen before they are picked. Always cut the fruit spikes from the plant. Avoid pulling them. A plant can keep on producing for many long years under favourable conditions.

The fruits are treated in many ways. The green fruits are sun dried for 7-10 days until the flesh around the single hard seed is wrinkled and become grayish black, then ground into black pepper or sold as whole peppercorns. The green pepper picked much earlier before ripening is air dried and used as such. The milder  white pepper is made from the same fruits which are allowed to ripen. They are soaked in water for a week before drying and the flesh is removed before the seeds are ground.

Problems and Care

In Bacterial spot disease, spots appear on leaves, stems, and fruits. These spots enlarge up to 1/4 inch in diameter, turn dark brown, and are slightly raised. Eventually the leaves yellow and drop off. Leaf symptoms appear first on the undersides of leaves as small water-soaked areas. Phytophthora blight or Quick wilt disease (root rot) is another destructive disease and occurs mainly during monsoon season. All parts of the vine are vulnerable to the disease and sudden wilting and death occur as plants reach the fruiting stage. The plant is also susceptible to many viral diseases of which Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) is one of the major virus. The symptoms often appear on lower, mature leaves and on fruits as ring-spot or oak-leaf necrotic patterns.

The best protection against diseases is to choose resistant varieties and to rotate crops as much as possible. Avoid planting the peppers where other members of the nightshade family have been previously planted as they are subject to similar diseases. Sunscald is caused by too much sun on the pepper, due to inadequate leaf coverage. Shade pepper in the heat of the day. Water to keep the soil moist but not soggy to encourage root development and prevent blossom wilting and bitter tasting peppers.

Fertilize occasionally with a seaweed foliar spray (always under clouds or shade - never in full sun). A spray of a small spoonful of epsom salts in water rectifies magnesium deficiency and coffee seeds powdered and tea leaves, fish leftovers add nitrogen, banana peels add potassium and egg shells add calcium to the soil. Mulch with partially decomposed compost after soil has warmed, to prevent weeds, keep soil evenly moist, and provide disease protection. Don't put mulch in contact with plant stem.

Questions of
 Questions & Answers
 1.  Posted on : 26.4.2012  By  :  Geetha , Coimbatore View Answer (0) Post Answer

Sir, I would like to grow cardamom in my home garden. Is it possible to grow in this place? Where can i get the seeds or sapling?

 2.  Posted on : 4.9.2010  By  :  Radhika , Pune, Pune View Answer (2) Post Answer

What are Burdock seeds called in India and where can i get them here in India?


Arctium lappa, commonly called greater burdock, gobō, edible burdock, lappa, ... Propagation is achieved through sowing the seeds midsummer. More :

  Posted By :Sheikh Gulzaar , Kashmir | On 16.9.2020

In marathi it is called ghagra. Burdock is a plant that is related to the daisy family. It is also closely related to Echinacea, Dandelion, and Feverfew. Burdock is an herb but it is one that has been much neglected when it comes to getting attention. Back in ancient times the Greeks used the roots, the seeds, and the greens and used them for healing purposes. Throughout the Middle Ages Burdock was used for both food and medicine. Today, Burdock is still used for such things as easing liver problems and digestive disorders. It was also found to be very effective for cleansing the skin for problems such as acne and also to assist in digestive problems. To this day throughout Europe the stalk and the greens are still eaten because they hold such valuable nutrition and vitamin values. As more and more research is being done on Burdock many new and interesting discoveries are cropping up. A relationship is being examined between Burdock and its anti fungal and anti bacterial properties, and even more important it is showing signs of possibly being able to fight against tumors and could be a cancer fighting agent as well. Research has shown that since many of the cancer causing compounds are in almost all foods which are then eaten and stored in the human fat tissues that Burdock might very well be of help in fighting cancer because of the role that it can play in depleting these mutagens. Burdock is also very helpful in strengthening the immune system when it has become weakened by environmental factors. When mixed with other herbs such as Dandelion and Ginger it can be a very powerful blood purifier. The most unique fact about Burdock is that it has a very high amount of inulin which is a natural occurring chemical within the body that mimics actions of insulin. Because of this, Burdock has been successful in helping combat hypoglycemia and pre diabetes conditions. If you look for Burdock in the market you may find it called gobo instead as that is what some refer to it as. It is often combined with other vegetables or added to Tofu. Some boil Burdock while others sautי or deep fry it. Many have said it might not be such a good idea to look at Burdock before you eat it because you might change your mind about taking a bite. It looks thick, dark, and woody but indeed the opposite is true when it comes to the taste. Burdock is well recognized as a health food because it has low calorie content and a high fiber intake. It is also loaded with potassium, iron, and calcium. People claim that Burdock tastes like nothing else. In other words it has a taste all of its own. The best description that people can agree on when it comes to the flavor of Burdock is that it is sweet yet earthy, with a tender and crisp texture. It is often added to stews, soups, and stir fries. In the form of food, Burdock is highly nutritional and full of vitamins but in retrospect Burdock is also an effective herb for bringing the body back into balance.

  Posted By :Yashashri Joshi , Thane | On 14.3.2012
 3.  Posted on : 28.3.2010  By  :  Linda , Michigan View Answer (1) Post Answer

Can a Clove tree be bonsai or grow as house plants like bay leaf or allspice?


Yes, Clove is a nice tree to plant in a house, Also you can maintain as a bonsai.

  Posted By :Rynco Orchids , trivandrum | On 17.4.2010
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