Known as the “king of spices”, pepper is one of the most widely used spices in the world. Pepper cultivation is endemic to South Asia and historical records reveal that pepper originated in South India. Peppercorns, also known as “black gold”, were a very valuable commodity and were often used as currency. After the Middle Ages, almost all black pepper found in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa came from the Malabar region of India. The high value of this spice led to European efforts to find a sea route to India, which resulted in the European colonization of India and the discovery and colonization of the United States by the Europeans. Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Brazil are the major pepper producers in the world.
|Botanical Name||Piper nigrum|
Products and Utilities
By drying the whole fruit, the pepper is produced mostly as black pepper. White pepper is produced by removing the outer pepper glaze and is also available in chopped and ground forms. Green and ripe peppers are salted in small quantities, while dehydrated raw peppers and canned ripe peppers are also used commercially. Peppermint oil and oleoresin are also marketed as value-added products. Pepper is mainly used in the food industry as a spice and seasoning. It is also used in the perfume and pharmaceutical industries.
Although the origin of black pepper is believed to have taken place along the Malabar coast of India, Sri Lanka is also home to a number of wild pepper varieties. Considering the large genetic variation of P. nigrum L found in Sri Lanka and the kinship of pepper varieties, Sri Lanka is also believed to be the homeland of pepper. Some commercial black pepper varieties have been introduced to Sri Lanka since the days of the commercial black pepper trade. High yielding pepper varieties Panyur-1 from India and Kuchin from Malaysia were introduced in the 1970s, but MB12 and GK 49 are high yieldings and high-quality local varieties that are popular with black pepper growers.