Where Do Peppercorns Grow?

The Peppercorn (Piper nigrum) is a woody perennial vine native to India. The seeds of this vine are eaten as a spicy seasoning and have been harvested for thousands of years. Black, green, and white pepper are all made from the Piper nigrum vine. The variation in spice is due to how the seed is harvested and processed.



One of the most popular spices from modern times into antiquity, black pepper plays no small role in the lives and economies of people worldwide. Black peppercorns were found in the nostrils of Ramesses III in ancient Egypt. In India, its use is documented as far back as 2000 B.C., and it’s the Indian state of Kerala where the ancient black pepper industry began.

Peppercorns were a highly valued trade good throughout the ancient world. By the 16th century, the peppercorn trade was booming in Southeast Asia. The British introduced black pepper to the western world after colonizing India.

The demand for this fiery seed has only grown. Today 473,000 tons of black pepper is sold per year globally. The main producer of black peppercorn is Vietnam, which supplies about 163,000 tons.


Piper nigrum is a tropical heat-loving vine that grows in USDA hardiness zones 10 and up. Because of it’s climbing habit, it’s often found intermingled with coffee and cacao or other tree crops.

This plant requires temperatures of above 65°F (18°C) to grow. It likes well draining rich soil that is constantly moist or a climate with a lot of rainfall. It is possible to grow black pepper in cooler climates if they are brought inside when the weather is cool.

Growth Habit

Black pepper vines are about 13 feet tall. They will spread readily and root where they touch the ground. They can easily become somewhat invasive if left unpruned. Commercial vines require a trellis to keep them upright with good airflow and maximum production.

The plants produce spikes with small green to white flower catkins. The flowers are self-fertile requiring no insect or wind pollination. The fruits grow in long clusters called drupes. Black peppercorns are the green drupes after being dried.

Growing at home

Peppercorns grow similarly to vanilla vines. When growing at home in a container or outdoors, there are several important factors to think about.

  • Temperature: ideally 65-85°F (18-29°C)
  • Watering: keep plants moist watering everyday and sometimes more in dry climates
  • Put in a window with lots of direct sunlight or supplement with artificial light

If keeping a plant in a container, use a well-draining potting soil that will not compact or become water-logged. Piper nigrum plants grow slowly and may take up to three years to produce fruit.

Text: Garden.eco