Pepper - The Black Gold
The Pepper plant
Kerala is known as the spice garden of India. In ancient days foreigners like British , Dutch and French invaded India mainly to exploit its natural resources. The ruling parties of India found that Kerala was rich with many types of spices like Pepper, Cardamom, Turmeric, Ginger etc. So they exported all these to their countries as much as possible. So here I wish to tell about one among these spices, the pepper.
Pepper is also known as ‘Black Gold’. It may be due to its high price. It belongs to the family ‘Peparacea’ . The scientific name of Pepper is Piper Nigrum. It was actually, this pepper that attracted the Britishers to India.
South India , in specific Kerala is the fertile land of pepper. It is grown in the humid and fertile soils of Western Ghats. Once India was the leading country in pepper cultivation in the world. But the foreign invaders spread the cultivation to their colonies at different part of the world. Thus Malaya Java, Philippens etc etc started cultivating pepper.
Pepper is a climber. It grows 30 to 50 meters in length. It needs a support to grow. Special roots called adventitious roots help them to stick to the supporter. The flowers of pepper are either male or female. Bilingual flowers are also seen in pepper. Since the fruit does not grow on plants which are either male or female usually bilingual plants are cultivated. For better result in yield bilingual plants are advised. The flowers of pepper grow in clusters . On a single spike about 50 to 150 whitish to yellow-green flowers are seen. The flowers develop into round, berry-like fruits. Like flowers the fruits are also seen in clusters on a spike. There may be 50-60 fruits on each spike. Each of these seed contain a single seed. Fruits are initially green . But on ripening they turn red. The fruits are picked either green or red to produce black and white pepper.
There are many types of pepper. Kerala is rich with its diverse items of pepper. About 60 items of pepper are seen in Kerala. According to the climate and fertility of earth a suitable item is selected. Besides the local varieties hybrid items are also there which yield higher quantity. Panniyoor 1 is one such hybrid variety.
Pepper is an ingradient of many Ayurvedic medicine. It is a quick curing medicine when you suffer from common cold and cough. For common cold just drink a cup of tea to which some pepper powder is added. For cough just eat some fruits occasionally. It also help to digest the food. Hence it is extensively used in almost all types of curries.