Family: Piperaceae
Genus: Piper
Botanical name: Piper nigrum Linn
Sanskrit: Maricha, Krishna, Dharmapathanam, Ooshanam
English: Black pepper, Common pepper, Pepper
Hindi: Kalimirch
Malayalam: Kurumulakukodi, Kurumulaku
The pepper plant is a perennial woody vine growing up to 4 metres (13 ft) in height on supporting trees, poles, or trellises. It is a spreading vine, rooting readily where trailing stems touch the ground. The leaves are alternate, entire, 5 to 10 cm long and 3 to 6 cm across. The flowers are small, produced on pendulous spikes 4 to 8 cm long at the leaf nodes, the spikes lengthening up to 7 to 15 cm as the fruit matures. The fruit of the black pepper is called a drupe and when dried it is a peppercorn.
Black pepper is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning. The fruit, known as a peppercorn when dried, is approximately 5 millimetres (0.20 in) in diameter, dark red when fully mature, and, like alldrupes, contains a single seed. Peppercorns, and the powdered pepper derived from grinding them, may be described simply as pepper or more precisely as black pepper (cooked and dried unripe fruit), green pepper (dried unripe fruit) and white pepper (dried ripe seeds).
Black peppercorns feature as remedies in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani medicine in South Asia. In Ayurveda the fruits are valued for a range of properties including its hot, light and anti-flatulent effects. It is most frequently used to treat problems associated with the digestive system, particularly to eradicate parasitic worms and as an appetizer. Some of its traditional uses are supported by scientific evidence.
Black pepper has been prepared in the form of pills as a remedy for cholera and syphilis, sometimes combined with other substances. It has also been used in tooth powder for toothache and an infusion of black pepper has been described as a remedy for sore throat and hoarseness. Alternatively black pepper could be chewed to reduce throat inflammation. The whole of kurumulaku is used for snake treatment.
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