Piper aduncum (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Piper aduncum L.

Family: Piperaceae


  • Artanthe adunca (L.) Miquel,
  • Piper angustifolium Ruiz & Pavón,
  • P. elongatum Vahl

Vernacular names

  • Spanish elder (En).
  • Indonesia: seuseureuhan (Sundanese)


Widespread in Central and South America, from Mexico to Brazil and in the West Indies. It has naturalized in many regions in Malesia.


P. aduncum is the American substitute for Indian long pepper (P. longum L.). It is the "matico” of the European pharmacy: its leaves serve as a mild aromatic tonic, stimulant and internal styptic. The oil contains asarone and coneol. In Malesia it is also used medicinally.


  • Monoecious shrubby tree, 2-8 m tall.
  • Leaf blade oblong-elliptical to lanceolate, 12-20 cm × 3-9 cm, length/width ratio 3/1, upper surface scabrous.
  • Inflorescence often bisexual, as long as the leaves, arching; floral bracts rounded subtriangular, 0.4-0.7 mm wide, densely yellow-white ciliate.
  • Male flower 2-3-staminate; female flower sessile, stigmas 3-fid.
  • Fruit a berry, obovoid, 0.8-1 mm in diameter.

P. aduncum grows in open or disturbed areas, roadsides, forest edges and along streams, up to 1500 m altitude.

Selected sources

  • Backer, C.A. & Bakhuizen van den Brink Jr, R.C., 1963-1968. Flora of Java. 3 volumes. Wolters‑Noordhoff, Groningen, the Netherlands. Vol. 1 (1963), 647 pp., Vol. 2 (1965), 641 pp., Vol. 3 (1968), 761 pp.
  • Tebbs, M.C., 1993. Revision of Piper (Piperaceae) in the New World 3. The taxonomy of Piper sections Lepianthes and Radula. Bulletin British Museum (Natural History), Botany Series 23: 1-50.
  • Wee-Lek Chew, 1972. The genus Piper (Piperaceae) in New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Australia, 1. Journal of the Arnold Arboretum 53: 1-25.


P.C.M. Jansen