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Saturday, 24 August 2013

Pepper (Piper nigrum)

Pepper (Piper nigrum) is a form of whole spices produced by the plant with the same name. Pepper is very important in components of world cuisine and is widely known as an important trade commodity in the "Old World.” In the past, the price is so high that it became one of the triggers of the Europeans to the exploration of East Asia for control of trade and, thus, began the history of the colonization of Africa, Asia, and America.

Piper nigrum is a type of vines, a part of the Piperaceae family. Pepper cultivation is intended to produce fruit, which is then dried and used as a spice. The fruit that knows, as black pepper or white pepper is a fresh fruit that measuring about 5 mm in diameter, dark red when fully ripe. Pepper powder is come from grinding dried pepper fruit.

Piper nigrum originated from India and widely cultivated there and in other tropical regions. Currently Vietnam is the largest producer and exporter in the world.

Characteristics of trees: 
Trees pepper, belonging to the Piper genus, which has about 600 to 2000 species. From the number of species, some of them has been cultivated such as Piper nigrum (pepper), Piper betle (betel), and Piper retrofractum (Java chili).

Pepper tree can reach up to 10m high; however, the vines will not be allowed to reach more than 5 m, when cultivated. Of course, this is a technical issue related to the care and harvesting.

Piper nigrum tree has two kind of roots:

a. Hanging Root ( Roots that above the ground/soil).

Hanging root is also called sticky or roots rock roots, the sticky roots use to cling or climb on its propagation media, so that the plant could metastasize to the top. Sticky roots only grow on the Orthotrop trunk, while on the fruit branches, the sticky roots will never grow.

b. The primary root.

This root is the root of the plant, as usual, there are roots in the soil, also called primary roots. Besides as an extension of the sticky root, these roots independtly also grows on the stem scars pieces. The roots will be able to penetrate the soil as deep as 12 m, root length can reach 2-4 m, but generally just reach between 30-60 cm depth only. This type of roots functionality is the same as in other plants, as the "legs" of plants, as a tool absorbing nutrients from the soil, etc.

Tolon is a main stem that growing climbing where other sticks such as plagiotrop and orthotrop branches will grow. The rod-shaped rather flat, dark gray, jointed, woody quickly, on this place the sticky roots grow. 

While in the bud, the rod bends. Each segment length can reach 7-12 cm at the end of segment will grow a leaf and a buds, their position is facing each other. 

When the pepper plant young ( 8 -12 months) will reach a height of 1.5 m with 1 segment whose numbers ± 20 pieces. After that, then branches grow consisting of primary branches, secondary, tertiary.

Orthotrop branches: These branches grow on the main stem. The branches are round, budded apart, and grow up. The branches have the same position with the primary trunk. Because they are, also have sticky roots, climbing, as well as having segments.

Plagiotrop branch (branch fruit): branches that grow from trunk orthotrop, which are numerous, these branches are short, rather small, and does not have sticky roots. At this branch, the flowers which later became the pepper fruit will grow.

The pepper plants unpaired single leafy, springy nature, and stemmed. Ovoid shape, but the bud tapered.

Upper parts of the leaves shiny dark green, while the under parts pale green and not shiny, stem length 2-4 cm, leaf length 12-18 cm, and 5-10 cm wide. The leaves on the upper trunk, not the same as the leaves on the bottom, at the top is longer, while the bottom is more rounded. Similarly, the forms of the leaves from the stems or branches are also not same as leaves on the vines and branches plagiotrop. The shapes of branch leaves are symmetrical and dark-colored, while the leaves of the plagiotrop branches or tendrils are asymmetrical and light-colored.

The leaves grow opposite each other with branches bud growth, while the growth of leaves on branches plagiotrop face to face with flower panicle growth. The leaf buds covered by petals. If the leaf expands, then fell off the petals or scales.

The parts that can bloom only plagiotrop branches or branches of fruit, the flowers grow in panicles of flowers, while the flower panicles grow on the segments of branches of fruit that face to face with leave. As another flower, the flower pepper is also composed of parts, among others:

a. Flower crown or base of the flower. This flowers canopy is green, or attached to the panicle. If fruit already grown, this canopy will become a basis of fruit, because the fruit is not stemmed.

b. Flower crown. Yellow-green and grow at the base of the flower. The shape is very small and delicate, being several days after pollination, the petals will wilt and eventually dry up.

c. Pistil. Pistil is the female tool, this section is a continuation of the ovary.

Pepper fruit has the following characteristics:

The Fruit:
Shape and color of the fruit: pepper fruit is round, hard seeds and soft-skinned fruit. Young fruit skin is green, while the old yellow. And when the fruit is ripe turns into red, slimy with a sweet taste. After dried then become black pepper.

In the process of growth, pepper fruit attached to the panicle, size 4-6 mm skin and seeds, while seeds large are 3-4 mm. Seed weight averaged 4.5 g.

Fruit Skin or pericarp consists of three layers, include:

a. Epicarp = outer skin,

b. Mesocarp = middle skin,

c. Endocarp = inner skin.

Seeds: Inside the skin, there are the seeds, which are the main products of the pepper tree; these seeds also have a layer of hard skin.

Black pepper and white pepper:

Black pepper and white pepper is actually the same, which is come from the same fruit of a plant called Piper nigrum. In the market, a black pepper and white pepper is solely due to the harvest treatment and after harvest processing.

White pepper is produced from the seeds of the pepper fruit that harvested when the fruit completely ripe or outer skin of the fruit is completely red. The skin pared until clean, and then dried. A dry peeled of clean seed ripe pepper is then named as white pepper. 

While the pepper fruit that harvested on half to ripe up to completely ripe then directly dry with all outer skin then named as black pepper. Therefore, to provide black pepper is simpler than to produce the white pepper. Western people generally prefer to choose black pepper than the white pepper; aroma of black pepper is stronger and spicier than the white pepper.

Scientific classification:

  • Kingdom: Plantae (Plants)
  •       Subkingdom: Tracheobionta (Vascular Plants)
  •           Super Division: Spermatophyta (Produces seeds)
  •               Division: Magnoliophyta (flowering plants)
  •                   Class: Magnoliopsida (dashed two / dicots)
  •                       Sub Class: Magnoliidae
  •                           Order: Piperales
  •                               Family: Piperaceae
  •                                   Genus: Piper
  •                                       Species: Piper nigrum