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Long Pepper (Piper longum L. and Piper retrofractum Vahl)


Bengaliপিপুল, পিপিল
Pipul, Pipil
BulgarianДългият пипер
Dulgiyat piper
蓽撥 [bāt but], 長椒 [chèuhng jìu]
Bat but, Cheung jiu
蓽撥 [bì bō], 長椒 [cháng jiāo]
Bi bo, Chang jiao
CzechPepř dlouhý
Dhivehiވަކިފު, ވަކިފޫ
Vakifu, Vakifoo
DutchLangwerpige peper
EnglishBalinese pepper*, Jaborandi pepper, Bengal pepper
EstonianPikk pipar
Farsiدار فلفل
Dar felfel ?
FrenchPoivre long
GermanLanger Pfeffer, Stangenpfeffer, Balinesischer Pfeffer*, Jaborandi-Pfeffer, Bengalischer Pfeffer
Hebrewפלפל ארוך
פִּלְפֵּל אָרֹוך
Pilpel arok
Hindiपीपल, पिपल, पिप्पली
Pipal, Pippli
HungarianBali (szigeti) bors*, Bengáli bors
IndonesianCabé bali, Cabe jawa*, Lada panjang
ItalianPepe lungo
Indonaga-koshō, Indonaga-kosho
Kannadaಗಜಹಿಪ್ಪಲಿ, ಹಿಪ್ಪಲಿ
Hippali; Gajahippali (Piper retrofractum)
KhmerMorech ansai
Sa li pi*, Iloet (Piper sarmentosum)
LatinPiper longum
LithuanianIndonezinis pipiras*
MalayBakek*, Chabai Jawa*, Kedawak*
Malayalamതിപ്പലി, പിപ്പല്ലി
Thippali, Pippalli
पिपी, पिप्ला
Pipi, Pipla
Oriyaପିପଳି, ପିପଳୀ, ପିଫଲି
Pipali, Piphli
PolishPieprz długi
Pipali, Magha, Darfilfil
RussianДлинный перец; Колосковый перец (Piper officinarum)
Dlinnyj perets; Koloskovyj perets (Piper officinarum)
SanskritChanchala, Magandhi, Kana, Ushana, Pippali
SantaliDare Marich, Dindi Marich
Sinhalaතිප්පිලි, ගජතිප්පිලි
Tippili, Gajatippili*
SlovakDlhé korenie, Piepor dlhý
SlovenianPodolgovati poper
Tamilதிப்பலி, வனபிப்பிலி, கண்டந்திப்பிலி
Tippali, Vanapippili, Kandandippili
Thaiดอกดีปลี, ดีปลี, ดีปลีเชือก, ชะพลู
Dok dipli, Dipli, Dee plee, Phrik-hang, Dipli-chueak*; Chaplu (P. sarmentosum)
Pi-pi ling
TurkishUzun biber, Dar fulful†, Dari fülfül†
UkrainianПерець довгий
Perets dovhyj
Urduفلفل دراز, پیپل
Filfil daraz, Pipul
VietnameseTắt bạt, Tat phắt, Tiêu lôt, Tiêu dội*
Tat bat, Tat phat, Tieu doi*, Tieu lot
Yiddishלאַנגער פֿעפֿער
Langer fefer

In the above list, names referring to South East Asian long pepper, P. retrofractum, are marked with an asterisk. Names without asterisk are either generic or refer to the South Asian species P. longum alone.

Piper longum: Long pepper
Dried long pepper
Used plant part

The tiny berries, which merge to a single, rod-like structure which bears some resem­blance to catkins (flowers of trees like hazelnut or willow).

Plant family

Piperaceae (pepper family).

Sensory quality

Hot and warm, with sweet and somewhat earthy overtones (some compare it with moist hemp ropes). For accounts on sweet or pungent spices, see licorice and negro pepper, respectively.

Main constituents

In P. retrofractum, piperine, piperlonguminine, sylvatine, guineensine, piperlongumine, filfiline, sitosterol, methyl piperate and a series of piperine-analog retrofractamides are reported. (Phytochemistry, 24, 279, 1985)

The content of piperine (about 6%) is slightly higher than in black pepper.

Piper retrofractum: Long pepper plant
Long pepper plant (P. retrofractum)       © Thai Junior Encyclopedia

On the other hand, long pepper contains less essential oil than its relatives (about 1%), which consists of sesqui­terpene hydro­carbons and ethers (bisabolene, β-caryo­phyllene, caryo­phyllene oxide, each 10 to 20%; α-zingiberene, 5%), and, surprisingly, saturated aliphatic hydrocarbons: 18% pentadecane, 7% tridecane, 6% heptadecane.


The species Piper longum is of South Asian origin (Deccan peninsular), whereas the closely related Piper retrofractum comes from South East Asia and is mostly cultivated in Indonesia and Thailand. Both species are often not clearly distinguished in the spice trade.


Pepper and related words names in most other European tongues ultimately derive from the Sanskrit name of long pepper, pippali [पिप्पलि, पिप्पली] Long pepper reached Europe earlier than the now much more important black pepper, and thus the latter inherited the name of the former.

There is no known etymology for Sanskrit pippali, the word clearly being of non-Indo–European origin. Note that pippala [पिप्पल] is the Sanskrit names of the sacred fig (Ficus religiosa) which figures prominently in Buddhism because Siddharta Gautama got enlighted while sitting in the shadow of such a tree. That name occurs already in the early Rigveda and has been tentatively categorized as neither Indo–European nor Dravidian nor Munda, but belonging to an ancient, now extinct language X of Northern India that is visible only through some loan words in later tongues.

The first Europeans enjoying pepper were the Greeks. They called the spice peperi [πέπερι], which is pretty close to the original Sanskrit word. When the dominion of the Mediterranean passed from the Greeks to the Romans, the latter also inherited the former’s rôle as main pepper consumers. In fact, late Roman cuisine depended heavily on Eastern spices in general, and both long and black pepper in particular (see also silphion). In Latin, pepper was called piper, still today the botanical genus name.

Piper retrofractum: Ripe long pepper
Ripe South East Asian long pepper fruits (P. retrofractum)       © Thai Junior Encyclopedia

Latin piper is pro­genitor of almost all names of pepper in con­temporary Euro­pean lan­guages. See black pepper for more infor­mation.

Since words derived from Latin piper signify black pepper in all modern European languages, names of long pepper are usually formed with an adjective long, e. g., Turkish uzun biber, Russian dlinnyj perets [длинный перец], Swedish långpeppar and French poivre long, all meaning plainly long pepper; cf. also Slovak dlhé korenie long spice, Chinese chang jiao [長椒] long (Sichuan) pepper and Greek makropipero [μακροπίπερο] large pepper.

Some Indic tongues have, however, preserved two different words for long and black pepper. For example, in Urdu, long pepper is called pipul [پیپل], whereas black pepper may be called with an Arabic loanword, filfil [فلفل]. Of course, both pipul and filfil ultimately derive from the same Sanskrit name, pippali. Black pepper has more names in Urdu, which are formed from another Aryan root; see black pepper for details. Another example is Marathi pimpali [पिंपळी] long pepper vs. mire [मिरे] black pepper; a similar pair exists in Gujarati: pipari [પીપરી] vs. mari [મરી].

Old European sources often had troubles to distinguish long pepper from chiles, both of which are pungent and have an elongated shape. The name long pepper was used for both spices in the century. Apparently, in modern Farsi, the name dar felfel [دار فلفل] woody pepper may still denote either of the two, although it seems more fitting for long pepper than for chile.

Selected Links

Indian Spices: Chabika ( Indian Spices: Long Pepper ( Gewürz-Bazar: Langer Pfeffer Sorting Piper names ( Francesco Sirene: Spices & Herbs (Catalogue) Olivers and Co: Long Pepper Recipe: Ethiopian Lentils and Berebere [በርበሬ] ( Recipe: Berbere [በርበሬ] Powder ( Recipe: Berebere [በርበሬ] Powder ( Recipe: Berebere [በርበሬ] Paste and More Ethiopian Recipes ( Rezept von Berbere [በርበሬ] Rezept von Niter kibbi [ንጥር ቅቤ] INDU-Versand Aromates, épices et condiments du monde entier The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea History of long and black pepper ( Recipe: Doro wot [ዶሮ ወጥ] (Ethiopian Chicken Stew) ( Recipe: Doro wat [ዶሮ ወጥ] (Ethiopian Chicken Stew) ( Traditional Ethiopian Wat Recipes ( Eritrean Recipes ( Langer Pfeffer Eritreische Gewürze (

Piper longum: Long pepper
Long pepper, flowering plant (P. longum)
Piper longum: Long pepper: Flower
Flower of Indian long pepper (P. longum)
Long pepper probably came to Europe before the now dominant black pepper. It was highly priced during the Roman Empire — about three times the price of black pepper. With its taste pungent and sweet at the same time, it was perfect for Roman cookery especially fond of these two taste sen­sations (see silphion for details). In our days, long pepper is nearly unknown and some­times hard to obtain.

Since terpene com­ponents are missing from its aroma, long pepper cannot be substituted by ordinary black pepper (you may try white pepper plus a little bit of mace, though). Its hot–and–sweet taste goes well with spicy cheese specialties (it’s a secret of my personal cheese fondue mixture) or wine sauces.

In Asia, two different plants with exactly the same sensory properties are used: Piper retrofractum from Indonesia has rods a little bit smaller than Piper longum from India (Bengal pepper). In Western countries, mostly the latter is available.

Since long pepper is more pungent than black pepper, it must be used with care, unless you like fiery food. Crush the rods before use. In India, the main application for long pepper is its usage in spicy vegetable pickles (in Hindi, achar [अचार]).

Rather remarkably, long pepper is also known and popular in parts of Africa, namely in the Islâmic regions of North and East Africa, whereto it has been introduced by Arab traders. Therefore, long pepper is sometimes found in the complex spice mixtures of Morocco (ras el hanout, see cubeb pepper); but it is also of some importance for the cuisine of Ethiopia, where long pepper is usually found in the traditional meat stews (wat), mostly together with black pepper, nutmeg, cloves and turmeric; the usage of turmeric exemplifies Indian influence in Ethiopian cuisine. Popular recipes are siga wat [ስጋ ወጥ], lean beef cubes braised in a spicy, thick gravy made from chiles, onions and garlic, and doro wat [ዶሮ ወጥ], a stew of chicken and hard-boiled eggs in similar gravy. Besides rice, the main staple in East Africa is a thin leavened bread (injera [እንጀራ]), which is made from a local cereal, teff [ጤፍ] (Eragrostis tef).

Piper longum: Long Pepper Flowers
Flowering long pepper

Spice us­age in Ethiopia parallels Indian tradition in several ways: Clarified butter (niter kibbi [ንጥር ቅቤ]) is a common in­gredient; other than Indian ghi, the Ethiopian version is prepared with spices and more often used as a flavouring than as a cooking medium. Also, the classical Ethiopian spice mixture berbere (also spelt berebere) resembles Indian masalas (see cumin) not only in its list of ingredients, but also in its preparation process which includes dry toasting of ingredients. In Ethiopia, the term berbere [በርበሬ] refers to both a coarse powder of semihot to hot chiles and to a spice mixture (flavoured berbere) which contains chiles as the main ingredient.

Berbere mixture is rather hot and traditionally used to spice mutton dishes; it is made by toasting dry chiles a few minutes until they darken and subsequent adding of long and black pepper, ginger, coriander fruits, fenugreek and a little bit of ajwain. Sweet tones are achieved by cinnamon, cardamom seeds, cloves and even allspice. Another ingredient, often omitted in recipes designed for the Western market, is rue, either in form of fresh leaves or as fresh or dried fruits.

Berbere can be made into a paste with water, wine or mead (tej [ጠጅ]); such a paste, called awaze or awazi [አዋዜ], is usually served as a table condiment. The paste can again be dried at elevated temperature to yield an even more aromatic spice. Some very complex berbere recipes consist of repeated steps of moistening and drying; the more delicate ingredient (rue leaves, basil) are added only before the last step.

Ethiopia’s small neighbour Eritrea features a related cuisine which, however, acquires a distict character by the use of Mediterranean ingredients (e. g., pasta) and herbs, which had been introduced during the Italian colonial era. The basic condiment is berbere paste prepared similar to the Ethiopian version, but with less chile; dried onions provide the typical Eritrean flavour. Example of Eritrean foods are the chicken stew tsebhi dorho [ጸብሒ ደርሆ] and a similar beef stew, zigni [ዝግኒ]. Eritrean flat bread ingera [እንጌራ] is, as its Ethiopian counterpart, made from teff or a teff–wheat-blend, but is has a milder taste due to lesser fermentation.

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