BLACK PEPPER ESSENTIAL OIL (PIPER NIGRUM):
Botanical Name: Piper nigrum
Common Method of Extraction: Steam Distilled
Part Typically Used: Peppercorns
Perfumery Note: Middle/Base
Strength of Initial Aroma: Crisp, fresh, peppercorn aroma, strong and sharp spicy
Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning. The fruit, known as a peppercorn when dried, is approximately 5 millimetres in diameter, dark red when fully mature, and, like all drupes, contains a single seed. Peppercorns, and the ground pepper derived from them, may be described simply as pepper, or more precisely as black pepper (cooked and dried unripe fruit), green pepper (dried unripe fruit) and white pepper (ripe fruit seeds).
The pepper plant is a perennial woody vine growing up to 4 metres in height on supporting trees, poles, or trellises. It is a spreading vine, rooting readily where trailing stems touch the ground. The flowers are small, produced on pendulous spikes 4 to 8 cm long at the leaf nodes, the spikes lengthening up to 7 to 15 cm as the fruit matures.The fruit of the black pepper is called a drupe and when dried it is a peppercorn.
The word pepper is derived from the Latin word piper, which in turn is taken from the Sanskrit word pippali.
Black peppercorns were found stuffed in the nostrils of Ramesses II, placed there as part of the mummification rituals shortly after his death in 1213 BCE. Little else is known about the use of pepper in ancient Egypt and how it reached the Nile from South Asia.
Pepper was known in Greece at least as early as the 4th century BCE, though it was probably an uncommon and expensive item that only the very rich could afford.
The plant originated from India, Malaysia, Madagascar, China and Indonesia and the oil is mostly made in Singapore, India and Malaysia. The unripe, sun-dried peppercorns (fruit) are used for the extraction of the oil, using steam distillation which produces a yield of nearly 2%.