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1.1 Background of the Study

Piper guineense L. commonly referred to as African black pepper is a climbing perennial plant of the family Piperaceae. The plant belongs to the group of pepper called false cubebs (Buzzanell and Gray, 1995) and the berries are often used as substitutes for the edible black pepper (Piper nigrum)and for the most closely related cubebs pepper (Piper cubeba). African black pepper is a native of tropical regionof central and western African and is semi-cultivated in countries such as Nigeria where the leaves and fruits (berries) are sold in markets as condiment and also for food flavor (Joan and Michihol, 2013). It is known as ‘Uziza’ in Igbo and ‘Iyere’ in Yoruba, other common names are Benins pepper, Guinea pepper and false cubeb. It grows in evergreen rainforest edges usually in wet places, gallery forest along rocky rivers of an elevation of 750-1650mm. The leaves have pungent taste and pleasant aroma when crushed (Tapsell and Hemphill, 2006). The oleiferous leaves are elliptic in shape, about 5cm long and 7cm broad. The leaves have a peppery taste, pale greenish color when fresh and darker green when dried. The flowers are small, borne on common stalks as cluster opposite the leaves or at the terminals of the stem and branches. The African black pepper is a protogynous plant. The flower develop first in the androecium (male organ of the flower) than in the gynoecium (female organ of the flower) (Okigbo and Igwe, 2007). Stamens open up 5-8 days after the stigma is receptive. In Nigeria, African black pepper is highly spicy plant and parts of the various plants are cultivated for their aromatic pungent. They are also classified into tiny wild fruits, nuts, herbs and leafy vegetable having heart-shaped leaves and oval petiole (Iwara and Uboh, 2013).


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