Sex. Syst. Diandria, Trigynia.
(Fructus immaturus, L.—Dried Spikes, E.) [Chavica is the Sanscrit name for plants of this kind.][Systema Piperacearum, Rotterdam, 1843. See also Pharmaceutisches Central-Blatt für 1839, pp. 415 and 431; and für 1845, p. 9;—and Buchner's Repertorium, Bd. xxxvi, S. 229, 1844, and Bd. xxxix, S. 14, 1845.]
Synonyms.—Piper longum, Linn, in part; figure, in Nees' Plant. Medic. tab. 23.
History.—Long pepper (πεπερι μακρον) is mentioned both by Dioscorides [Lib. ii. cap. 189.] and Galen. [De Simpl. Med. Facult. lib. viii. cap. xvi, 11.]
Botany. Gen. Char.—Woody. Spikes solitary, opposite to the leaves. Flowers sessile, dioecious. Bracts with short stalks, nearly quadrangular, peltate. Style very short or 0. Berries sessile, united with the permanent bracts and the thickened rachis of the spike. Seeds oblong or almost lenticular, with a crustaceous finely scrobiculate testa and a mealy albumen.
Sp. Char.—Rather hairy; lower leaves roundish ovate, 7-nerved; female spikes cylindrical, about as long as their stalk.
Hab.—India. Found wild among bushes on the banks of watercourses, up towards the Circar Mountains. It flowers and bears fruit during the wet and cold seasons (Roxburgh). It is cultivated in Bengal, and in the valleys amongst the Circar Mountains. The roots and thickest parts of the stems, when cut into small pieces and dried, form a considerable article of commerce all over India under the name of Pippula moola.
Description.—When fully grown, but yet unripe, the spadices are gathered and dried by exposure to the sun. They are then packed in bags for sale.
As met with in commerce, long pepper (piper longum) is grayish brown, cylindrical, an inch or more in length, having a mild aromatic odour but a violent pungent taste.
The long pepper imported from our possessions in India is the produce of Chavica Roxhurghii, Mig. But that which is brought to Europe from the Dutch colonies is the produce of Chavica officinarum, Miq.
Composition.—This pepper was analyzed by Dulong in 1825. [Journ. de Pharm. t. xi. p. 52.] The following are the substances he obtained from it: Acrid fatty matter (resin?), volatile oil, piperin, nitrogenous extractive, gum, bassorin, starch, malates and other salts.
The volatile oil of long pepper is colourless, and has a disagreeable odour and an acrid taste.
Physiological Effects and Uses.—The effects of long pepper are analogous to those of black pepper. Gullen [De Simpl. Med. Facult. lib. viii. cap. xvi. 11.] and Bergius [Mat. Med. ed. 2nda, t. i. p. 29.] consider it less powerful; but most other pharmacologists are agreed on its being more acrid. Medicinally it may be employed in similar cases. It is used principally for culinary purposes. It is a constituent of several pharmacopoeial preparations.