PIPER, in botany, pepper, a genus of the Diandria Trigynia class and order. Natural order of Piperitm. Urticze, Jus sieu. Essential character : calyx none ; corolla none ; berry one-seeded. There are sixty species. Most of the peppers are perennial, with herbaceous or frutes cent stems, sometimes scandent and di chotomous, the branches as it were joint ed. The numerous species of this genus are natives of the East and West Indies, a few of the islands in the South Seas, and two or three of the Cape of Good Hope. P. nigrum, black pepper, grows spontane ously in the East Indies and Cochin China; it is cultivated with such success in Ma lacca, Java, and especially in Sumatra, that it is thence exported to every part of the world, where a regular commerce has been established. White pepper was for merly thought to be a different species from the black ; but it is nothing more than the ripe berries deprived of their skin, by steeping them about a fortnight in water ; after which they are dried in the sun. P. betle, betel, has the stems smooth and even, striated, angular ; leaves acuminate, a little oblique at the base ; peduncle longer than the petiole, and opposite to it; spike cylindrical, frequently, together with the peduncle, pendulous ;petiole channeled at the base. It is the leaf of this species of pepper plant, which is called betle, or betel, which serves to enclose a few slices or bits of the areca ; these, together with a little chunam, or shell lime, are what the southern Asiatics uni versally chew to sweeten the breath and strengthen the stomach ; the lower people there use it as ours do tobacco in Europe, to keep off the calls of hunger : it is there deemed the height of unpoliteness to speak to a superior without some of it in the mouth. The women of Canara on the
Malabar coast, stain their teeth black with antimony, thus preserving them good to old age ; the men, on the contrary, ruin theirs by the betel and chunam, or lime, which they take with it.
Pir ERITirm, in botany, from the word piper, pepper, the name of the second or der in Linnxus's Fragments of a Natu ral Method ;" consisting as the name im ports, of pepper, and a few genera which agree with it in habit, structure, and sen sible qualities. These plants are mostly herbaceous and perennial. The stalks of some of them creep along rocks and trees, into which they strike root at certain dis tances. None of them rise above fifteen feet high, and but few exceed three or four feet. The flesh roots of many of these plants, particularly those of several spe cies of arum, are extremely acrid when fresh. They lose this pungent quality, however, by being dried, and become of a soapy nature. The pepper plant of Se negal bears a round berry, about the size of hemp seed, which, when ripe, is of a beautiful red colour, and of a sweetish taste. It contains a seed of the shape and bigness of a grain of cabbage, but very hard, and possessing an agreeable poig nancy. The berries grow in small bunches on a shrub that is about four feet high, and has thin supple branches, furnished with oval leaves, that are pointed at the ends, not very unlike those of the privet.