This family contains some of the most important spice plants in the world. Of the 1,400 to 2,000 species in ten genera, the most recognizable species is the plant we get pepper from (Piper nigrum). Another well known species, particularly in the pacific is the Kava plant (Piper mythisticum). Kava plants do not produce fertile seeds, however, and are only spread by stem cuttings. The kavalactones that come from the plant are muscle relaxants and thus, the plant is considered a psychotropic plant.
Most plants in this family are easily identified by the presence of a long rat-tailed flowering structure. These inflorescences are composed of many small individual flowers with peltate bracts surrounding usually 2 stamen and one pistil.
Its known as a "non-monocot paleoherb" because of its unique taxonomy.
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