Interesting Facts about the King of Spices – Pepper


Pepper is called by many the “king of spices,” and is seen on most dining tables paired with salt. The word “pepper” came from the Sanskrit word for berry – pippali. Pepper is now grown in, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, as well as Kampuchea and Vietnam. It is also grown on the west coast of India, which is Malabar, where pepper first got its beginnings. The US is the major importer in the world of pepper. India has always been the biggest exporter of this spice, although Brazil may be growing to be among the newest and largest exporter of pepper.

Piper nigrum

Both white, as well as black pepper, come from a shrub that is classified as Piper nigrum.

1000 species

This is only one of around 1000 species in the genus Piper. The main varieties of this species are grown mainly as woody shrubs, trees that are very small as well as vines in the subtropical and tropical areas of the globe. Piper nigrum is a shrub that climbs and grows often up to 30 ft tall supported by a structure of aerial roots but is typically pruned to 12 ft during cultivation.


It produces a berry type of fruit which becomes peppercorns with each one containing only a single seed. It is native to Sri Lanka and southern India and has been grown and cultivated in other countries that have weathered with warm temperatures and soil conditions that are moist. Because this plant likes shade, it often grows scattered with tea and coffee on plantations. These plants can produce berries for up to 40 years.

Interesting Facts

  • Pepper comes in various colors, black, green, white and red but all from the same plant – color relates to how ripe it is.
  • This spice has been used in cooking for well over 2000 years.
  • In the Middle Ages, a man’s wealth was determined by his stockpile of pepper.
  • Pepper gets its spicy kick from the compound that is known as peperine.

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