Botanical Description of Piper Species

Piper species is characterized by their alternative leaf pattern, with opposed type of inflorescences axillary, single or compound, floral bract deltoid, triangular, occasionally smooth, glossy, densely clustered flowers on the vertical axis, anthers opening in a vertical, horizontal or oblique plane; pistil 3-5 carpels, smooth fruit, stylish, depressed or truncated. There are many more species that are center specific. Ravindran and Babu (1996, 1997) discussed the morphological characters of different species of Piper of South India. The two subgenera from South Indian taxa, Pippali and Maricha, proposed by Ravindran (2000) could be differentiated on the basis of their inflorescence characteristics. Pippali shows spike-like inflorescence, for example, P. longum L., whereas in Marichait is hanging or pendant-like inflorescence, for example, P. nigrum L. The Piper species are grown in shady places and in low and moderate temperatures, with optimum level of moisture in the soil and adequate supply of water. The climber species are grown as an intercrop with trees for support. Dyer et al. in 2004 discussed the vegetative propagation of Piper species in four modes, namely, branch repositioning, fragmentation of branches, rhizomes fragmentation and prostration of branches in the soil (Brintnall and Molly 1986).

Piper argyrophyllum Miq.

The plant grows as climbing bushy shrub having glabrous leaves. Stems noticeably ridged and furrowed when dried, and leaf petiole size varies, usually 3-3.5 cm long and gets shortest on leaves toward apex of stem. Leaves are chartaceous to thinly coriaceous, ovate-orbicular, 7-21 cm long and 5-7cm wide, membranous, glandular, usually the lower side of the leaves covered with white hair-like scales; the base is rounded or subcordate and apex cuspidate or mucronate. The inflorescences are drooping in nature and seen as leaf-opposed, and the bracts are with free margins, usually remain adnate to the rachis. Flowers are monoecious; male spikes 8-21 cm, slender; stamens 3 in number; filaments nearly as short as ovoid anthers; anthers ovoid; female spikes 7-9 cm and rachis sparsely hairy around ovoid ovaries; stigmas 3 or 4, slightly curved. Berries are rounded and matured, and turns into black, usually 3-4mm in diameter.

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