Saturday, June 15, 2024

BLACK PEPPER (Piper nigrum)

Authors; Karim Yar Abbasi, Dr. CM Ayyub, Saqib Ayyub (Horticulture, UAF)

Black pepper, the King of Spices, or Black Gold is an important emerging spice crop grown in the northeastern region. It is usually cultivated under home gardens or homesteads. Trailing on available shade trees like coconut and areca nut palm and other standards can raise black pepper.

Different name:

The popular name is pepper. Indian Black Pepper, Black Pepper, Round Pepper. Arabic Pepper Black. Gujarati Pepper. Persian Black Pepper, Black Pepper, Round Pepper. Bengali Round Pepper. Pepper Nigurum in Latin and Black Pepper in English.


The pepper plant is a perennial woody vine growing up to 4 m (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 (2.0 to 3.9 in) long and 3 to 6 cm (1.2 to 2.4 in) across. The flowers are small, produced on pendulous spikes 4 to 8 cm (1.6 to 3.1 in) long at the leaf nodes, the spikes lengthening up to 7 to 15 cm (2.8 to 5.9 in) as the fruit matures. Black pepper is produced from the still-green, unripe drupe of the pepper plant. The drupes are cooked briefly in hot water, both to clean them and to prepare them for drying. The heat ruptures cell walls in the pepper, speeding the work of browning enzymes during drying. The drupes dry in the sun or by machine for several days, during which the pepper skin around the seed shrinks and darkens into a thin, wrinkled black layer. Once dry, the spice is called black peppercorn. On some estates, the berries are separated from the stem by a hand and then sun-dried without boiling.


There are several potential health benefits of black pepper for the body and brain, and many of them come from the black pepper compound piperine.

High in antioxidants

Piperine, the plant compound in black pepper, has strong antioxidant properties. The body creates free radicals, unstable molecules that can damage cells, both naturally and in response to environmental stresses. Excess-free radical damage can lead to serious health problems, including inflammatory diseases, heart disease, and certain cancers. Research has shown that diets high in antioxidants could lessen free radical damage. For example, one review trusted Source of both test tube and rodent studies found that black pepper and piperine supplements may prevent or slow the advancement of free radical damage and related diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, and cancer.

Anti-inflammatory benefits

While there is no extensive human research on the anti-inflammatory benefits of black pepper and piperine, several rodent studies suggest that piperine may help ease inflammation.

For example, during one study trusted Source aimed at learning whether or not piperine could suppress cardiac injury associated with doxorubicin, an anti-cancer drug, researchers found that lab mice injected with piperine experienced reduced inflammation. Another rodent study trusted Source suggests piperine’s anti-inflammatory properties may help protect renal tissue damage associated with ischemia-reperfusion. Ischemia-reperfusion refers to tissue damage that occurs when a part of the body does not receive enough oxygen. Researchers have also found that specific piperine supplements may help decrease the chronic inflammation Trusted Source that people with metabolic syndrome experience, but more human research is necessary.

Antibacterial properties

A handful of reviews and studies point to piperine’s antibacterial potential. For example, after a small review of studies involving black pepper’s antibacterial properties against gram-positive bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, researchers concluded the spice could be a powerful ingredient for future therapies against both infectious diseases and foodborne pathogens. Another larger-scale review examined lab and human studies involving the many pharmacological properties of piperine, including antibacterial properties. Similarly, one test-tube study trusted Source found that piperine and piperlongumine — a component of the long pepper plant — may help fight multidrug-resistant pathogens. The study’s authors concluded that both compounds might be helpful as bioactive compounds for new antibacterial drugs. However, authors from both reviews suggested more research is necessary.

Cancer-fighting properties

Although there have not been any human studies to date, several laboratory studies suggest that piperine in black pepper may have cancer-fighting properties. For example, one comprehensive review of spices and cancer treatments notes that studies found piperine suppressed cancer cell replication in breast, prostate, and colon cancer. Similarly, the substance showed promise as a therapeutic agent in treating osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. However, more scientists need to conduct more studies to investigate this effect fully.

Increasing “good cholesterol”

Researchers conducted a study of piglets randomly assigned a diet supplemented with or without black pepper and noted changes during their growing and fattening periods. They found the piglets that consumed a diet supplemented with black pepper experienced a significant increase in high-density lipoprotein — which people call the “good cholesterol” — compared to other piglets. The researchers believe these results might warrant further studies to explore the potential beneficial effects on lipid metabolism in humans.

Helping blood sugar control

A small 2013 study trusted Source on humans on the effects of a supplement containing several bioactive food ingredients — including piperine — on insulin resistance found an improvement in insulin sensitivity. This means the hormone insulin was better able to regulate the uptake of glucose.

However, because the supplement contained multiple food ingredients, it is not clear if piperine alone would have produced the same results.

Nutrient absorption and gut health

Research from 2013Trusted Source suggests black pepper may help boost nutrient absorption, as well as display prebiotic-like behavior, helping regulate intestinal microbiota and enhance gastrointestinal health.

Boosting brain function

Several animal studies have shown piperine may improve brain function, particularly for symptoms associated with degenerative brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. For example, researchers have found that piperine helped improve memory in rats with Alzheimer’s, as well as reducing the formation of amyloid plaques. These are damaging protein fragments that first develop in the areas of the brain linked with memory and cognitive function. A study on humans found an association between Alzheimer’s and levels of piperine, but the researchers concluded they were not able to draw a reason for the link and stated more research is necessary.

Nutrition information:

The quantity below shows the amount of nutrients in a teaspoon of ground black pepper, weighing in at 2.3 grams (g) Trusted Source Energy in calories 5.77, Protein grams(g) 0.239, Carbohydrates (g )1.47, Fiber (g) 0.582, Sugars (g) 0.015, Calcium(mg) 10.2, Iron (mg) 0.223,Magnesium(mg) 3.93,Phosphorus(mg) 3.63,Potassium (mg) 30.6, Sodium (mg) 0.46, Zinc (mg) 0.027, Manganese(mg) 0.294, Selenium(mcg) 0.113,Fluoride(mcg) 0.787,Niacin(mg) 0.026,Folate(mcg) 0.391,Betaine(mg) 0.205,Beta carotene(mcg) 7.13,Lutein + zeaxanthin (mcg) 10.4,Vitamin E(mg) 0.024,Vitamin K(mcg) 3.77,Vitamin A(mcg retinol activity

equivalents) 12.6

Place of birth:

Vietnam is the largest producer of pepper. Secondly, it is produced in Indonesia. It is also widely cultivated in the Indian state of Kerala. It is also grown in Brazil and China in south India, East Indies, Java Sumatra, Malabar Forests It is abundant in Singapore, Travancore, and Pondicherry.


 Kalamund, Panniyur-l, Panniyur-2, Panchami, and Poumami are the recommended varieties for this region.

Climate and Soil:

 Black pepper is a crop of warm humid tropics. It can tolerate a temperature range of 10 to 40 DC, while the most favorable range is around 25-35DC. The friable loam soil with high humus content and good drainage is considered best for black pepper. The soil pH of 4.5-6.0 is ideal.

Planting Standard:

 Live standards are used for the monocropping of black pepper. With the onset of pre-monsoon showers (April- May), stem cuttings of Erythrina indica or Grevillea robusta are to be planted in pits taken at a spacing of 2.7m x 2.7m to accommodate around 1300 plants/ha. Other standards like coconut, areca nut, jackfruit and mango tree, etc. can also be used as live standards for growing pepper.

Land Preparation:

 The field is prepared by digging a pit for planting pepper. Pits are dug on the northern side of the standard at a distance of 30 to 45 cm away from the standard. Pits of 50crn x 50cm x 50 cm size may be dug and filled with topsoil and FYM or compost. Two to three cuttings are planted in each pit with the onset of monsoon rain. The growing portion of the vine is trailed to the standard.

Time of Sowing:

The best time for planting black pepper is just at the onset of the monsoon.

Manure and Fertilizer:

 Organic manure 10 kg/plant in the form of FYM or compost may be applied every year. Fertilizer 100:40: 140 g NPK/ vine/ year may be applied. 1/3 rd of the dose is applied during the first year, 2/3rd dose during the second year; full dose is given from the third year.

Training and pruning:

As the black pepper cuttings grow, the shoots are to be tied to the standards as and when required. When pepper is trailed on coconut palm or areca nut palm it is necessary to restrict their upward growth so as to avoid inconvenience to the climber for harvesting and spraying. For this purpose, when the vertical growth attains 5-6 meters, the terminal shoots are to be either pruned or lifted and bend down carefully to avoid breaking.

 Cultivation of black pepper


Irrigating pepper plants from November-December till the end of March and withholding irrigation till monsoon break increases pepper yield by about 50 %.

Plant Protection:

Top Shoot borer (Cydia hemidoxa meas)- Fully grown larvae, which are grayish-gree, bore into the tender terminal shoot and feed on tissues and retard growth of young vines. Spraying of Monocrotophos (0.05%) during July and September is found to control this pest.

Leaf gall thrips (Liothrips karnyl)-Adult and larvae feed on tender leaves inducing the formation of marginal tubular galls on leaves. Leaves become crinkled and reduced in size. Spraying 0.05 % Monocrotophos or Dimethoate on tender leaves is recommended.

Footrot (Phytophthora capsicii-Anthracnose (Pollu disease) (Colletotrichum gleosporioides) – Dark brown irregular spots having a yellow halo appear on the leaf tip or lamina and also on the berries. The disease infects the berries and they show sunken patches during the early stages. Discoloration gradually spreads and develops characteristic cracks on them. Spray Bordeaux mixture I % during May-June and September-October will control the disease.

Dr. Mujahid Ali
Dr. Mujahid Ali
I am working as Assistant Horticulturist (BS-18) at Water Management Research Farm Renala Khurd, before this served as Assistant Professor (IPFP) in Horticulture at the University of Sargodha. I have completed my Ph.D. in 2018 from the Institute of Horticultural Sciences, UAF previously worked as Visiting Lecturer in Horticulture UOS, worked as Research Fellow in ACIAR project on vegetables, and worked as Teaching Assistant in Horticulture UAF. Moreover, Ph.D. IRSIP did in the NC State University, United States.

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