Piper aduncum L.

Etymology Genus Pepper
Species Bent or hooked; referring to the flowering spikes
Family Piperaceae
Synonyms Artanthe adunca (L.) Miq., Piper aduncifolium Trel.
Common Names Bamboo Piper, Matico, Spiked Pepper
Status Exotic: Naturalised
Form Shurb or small tree
Native Distribution South America


A short shrub to tree of about 6m, Piper aduncum is a very recognisable species from many aspects. Its stem is bamboo-like. The branches have a zig-zag pattern. The leaves are very thin, with an off-white underside, and an uneven cordate leaf base. Lastly, the flowering spikes are long, slender and bending.

Interesting Facts:

The Bamboo Piper can be found in disturbed secondary forests here. It is considered as a high risk invasive weed according to PIER (2011) because of its fast growth, establishing quickly into dense thicklets preventing native species from growing; as well as its effective dispersal by birds.

It was said that Indian tribes in the Amazon use its leaves as an antiseptic wound to stop bleeding, prevent infections and to speed healing (Taylor, 2006). The leaves are either "crushed or powdered and sprinkled directly onto the cut, wound, ulcer, and/or boil, or a tea (infusion) is made from the leaves and used as a wash".

A forest of Bamboo Piper in Tengah.

Characteristic branching.

Off-white underside of the leaf.

Stipule; note the uneven cordate base of the leaf.

Bamboo like stem

Curved flowering spike


PIER (2011) Piper aduncum. Pacific Island Ecosystem at Risk (PIER), Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry. http://www.hear.org. Accessed on 25-Nov-2017.
Taylor L. (2006) Technical Data Report for Matico, Tropical Plant Database. http://www.rain-tree.com. Accessed on 25-Nov-2017.

Author: Jake
Posted: 2017-11-26 / Modified: 2017-12-25