A genus of herbs, slender climbers, shrubs, and small trees in which the twigs have swollen nodes, the leaves have stipules, commonly tri-nerved, and the flowers are held in spikes, are hermaphrodite, and have no sepals or petals. The fruit is a berry. Pepper is the fruit of P. nigrum; the fruit is gathered early, and dried to give black peppercorns, or, if the outside is removed, white pepper. The betle pepper is P. betle. P. methysticum is kava, a narcotic which, when pulped and fermented in water, gives the national Polynesian sedative drink. There are more than 1000 species, with a pantropical distribution.
Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry.