Long pepper characteristics and properties

What is long pepper (Piper longum) ?

Characteristics of long pepper

Common English name: long pepper, common long pepper, pepper from India.

Common name in other languages: 

– Spanish: pimienta larga, pimienta larga común, pimienta de la India, pimentero largo.

– Catalan: pebre llarg, pebre de l’India

– German: langer Pfeffer

– Italian: Pepe lungo

– Portuguese: pepper-longa

– French: poivre long

– Chinese: Bi Bo

– Hindi: Kankala

– Sanskrit: Chaviaka

Scientific name: Piper longum L.

Taxonomic synonyms: Chavica roxburghii Miq., Piper longum bauh orientale.; Piper longum Ger. Em.

Family: Piperaceae.

Habitat: plant native to India, especially of Malabar and Bengal, which was known in Europe as a spice before than black pepper (Piper nigrum). This spice had a great importance in medieval trade.

Naturalized in Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Grown in tropical Asia Indochina and China.

Botanical description of long pepper

Long pepper (Piper longum) is a climbing plant that grows in tropical climates and has essential oils in leaves and seeds, giving off a strong fragrance.

This perennial low gnarled vine is native to India. Their stems have nodes where the fruitful branches and leaves born. It has adventitious roots.

Leaves numerous, stalked and cordate at the base, with 7 nerves. Upper leaves oblong-cordate with 5 nerves. Growth of the stem leaves alternate, between 6.3 and 9 inches long. Petiole of basal leaves: 5 to 7.5 centimeters. Upper leaves short-stalked or stalkless.

The inflorescence is a pedunculated flower spike that comes from the nodes of the main stems. 2 to 3 cm long, with tiny flowers.

Flowers are greenish yellow and arranged in a spiral along the spine. The flower opening starts from the base of the spike to the apex.

The long pepper fruit is a drupe small, arranged in the flower spike forming a compact fruiting, welded, reminiscent of black catkins and hard, between 2 and 3 (up to 5) cm long.

These fruits are green in their immaturity, stained pink at maturity and are kept dry, when they become dark black. They whole spikes are collected and ground. Used to prepare curry or as a substitute for black pepper (Piper nigrum).

Composition of long pepper

Long pepper has a spicy and aromatic flavor due to its content of alkaloids and essential oils:

Piperine: main alkaloid responsible for the intense spiciness of the pepper. It also contains the alkaloid piperidine.

Essential oils: monoterpenes: levo-phellandrene, pinene, limonene, sabinene, myrcene, and sesquiterpenes: beta-caryophyllene, humulene, beta-bisabolone, caryophyllene.

Scented resin.

Medicinal properties of long pepper

The fruits of long pepper, dried and crushed, are suitable for cooking. It is added to curry mixes or used as a substitute for black pepper. Congener of black pepper.

It has been attributed with the following medicinal properties:



– Indigestion

– Headache

– Toothache

– Ashma

– Cough

– Fever

– Tuberculosis

– Bronchitis

– Psoriasis

– Insomnia

– Etc

Drawing of long pepper

piper longum

Photo of long pepper (Piper longum)

punto rojoMore information about black pepper and other types of peppers

Botanical classification

Vascular plants


Seed plants


Flower plants



SpeciesP. longum L.

punto rojoMore information about black pepper and other types of peppers

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

19 May, 2021

Other interesting articles

This material is for informational purposes only. In case of doubt, consult the doctor.
"Botanical-online" is not responsible for damages caused by self-medication.