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Negro pepper (Xylopia aethiopica)
Annonaceae (custard apple family)
Tropical Africa (Ethiopia to Ghana)
Used plant part
Fruits; they look rather like small, twisted bean-pods. They are dark brown, cylindrical, 2.5 to 5 cm long and 4 to 6 mm thick; the contours of the seeds are visible from outside. Each pod contains 5 to 8 kidney-shaped seeds of approximately 5 mm length. The hull is aromatic, but not the seed itself.
Aromatic, quite pungent and slightly bitter
In negro pepper fruits, the essential oil (2 to 4.5%) has been found to consist of ß-pinene, 1,8-cineol, a-terpineol, terpinene-4-ol, paradol, bisabolene and other terpenes. In other work, linalool (E)-ß-ocimene, a-farnesene, ß-pinene, a-pinene, myrtenol and ß-phellandrene were found, furthermore traces of vanillin and 3-ethylphenol (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 47, 3285, 1999)
Dried negro pepper fruits
Negro pepper has been used as a pepper substitute in Europe, but with regular imports of black pepper from India starting in the 16th century, it mostly disappeared. In later times, negro pepper was only traded as a pepper substitute (or surrogate) in times of war and short supply; the last time, it was seen in Europe from after World War II till the 60s of the previous century. It is hardly available outside of the production countries nowadays.
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