Woody climbers, herbs, erect shrubs or occasionally small trees with swellings at the joints. Leaves alternate, the blade more developed on one side (asymmetrical); stipules absent or on the leaf stalk. Flowers bisexual or unisexual in simple or multiple spikes in the axils of leaves or opposite them, individual flowers with incurving bracts. Stamens 2-10. Stigmas (2-)3(-4). Fruit a fleshy drupe sunk into the swollen axis.
Piper nigrum, Black Pepper from S India and Sri Lanka, is the source of table pepper, black pepper being the dried, unripe fruit and white pepper the ground contents when the outer skin has been removed.
Swollen joints; leaf blade asymmetrical.
about 2000 species, mostly tropical (Australia has 8 species from warm regions).
Tebbs (1989, 1990, 1993).
Source: (1997). Piperaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.