P. Nigrum Black pepper

Black Pepper is known chiefly as a food plant; its berries are the most widely consumed of all seasonings (black and white pepper). It is also a rewarding and, above all, undemanding ornamental climbing plant. It is native to tropical Asia where it reaches a height of 10 m (33 ft). The leaves are alternate, heart-shaped and dark green. The green flowers are extremely small and arranged in drooping clusters. They do not have a perianth; the two stamens have short filaments and the lobed stigma is pressed close to the globose ovary. Pepper plants with coloured leaves are also grown; for example P. orna-tum with young leaves coloured carmine-red that later fade to greyish-pink, P. porphyrophyllum and P. sylvaticum.

P. nigrum may be placed in a light position, but it tolerates shade very well. The winter temperature should be about 15°C (59° F). The growing medium is usually a loam and peat compost. Water regularly to keep the compost permanently moist. The plant also benefits from misting. Feed weekly from spring to autumn. Propagate by stem and tip cuttings which require a temperature of about 25° C (77° F) for rooting. Always put several cuttings in one pot and cover them with a plastic bag, otherwise the plants will shed their leaves. All variegated species are more tender; in winter the temperature should not fall below 18°C (64° F).

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