The fruit of Piper nigrum is the source of one of the world’s most traded and frequently used spices. Black pepper is a perennial flowering vine native to southern India that is cultivated for its fruit that is dried and used as a spice or seasoning. The fruit is a single-seeded drupe and the source of black, white, and green peppercorns. Black peppercorns are the cooked and dried unripe fruit, green peppercorns are the dried unripe fruit, and white peppercorns are the ripe seeds.
Historically, black pepper has been one of the world’s most traded spices and so valuable that it was used as currency or collateral. The term peppercorn rent is a reference to the high price of black pepper in Europe during the Middle Ages. Fun Fact: black pepper was found stuffed in the nose of Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II as part of the mummification process.