peperomia plants look super interesting and are easy going – a great combo 🙂 there are 1500-1700 species of peperomia as of 2005 making this one of the largest groups of basal angiosperms aka flowering plants (wanke et al., 2005). ‘peperomia’ is derived from the greek words ‘peperi’ (pepper) & ‘homoios’ (resembling), as they are related to & look similar to black pepper plants. please check out progress shots on instagram at #jmpeperomia.

my peperomia fam ~ back from left to right: p. obtusifolia, p. argyreia, p. prostrata; front left to right: p. clusiifolia ‘jellie,’, p. caperata ’emerald ripple,’ p. verschaffeltii

history

i read an interesting article examining medicinal plants in trinidad & tobago, including peperomia rotundifolia. lans (2007) compared the use of these plants in t & t to current uses in asia. what was interesting was how she framed the context of the study. you see, chinese culture contributed to plant medicine in t & t given the colonial history of the nation. she traced the movement of chinese people from 1806 & on. following the emancipation of carribbean slaves, chinese indentured workers were brought over. as always, this history is bittersweet. it’s incredible to think that chinese medicinal use of plants has carried on for over 200 years in t & t. it is my hope that we honour this history by learning from those that came before us & returning to tradition of using plants as a primary source of medicine.

did you know?

there are medicinal uses for plants from this genus (e.g., arrigoni-blank et al., 2004; santos et al., 2014). in central america, some indigenous communities use the leaves & stems of peperomia obtusifolia to treat insect + snake bites, and also as a skin cleanser (lentz et al., 1998). in addition, defilipps & colleagues (2004) conducted a review of the medicinal plants in the guianas & found that p. obtusifolia has been used by indigenous peoples to treat malaria & arthritis. 

among piperaceae species, the peperomia genus is one of the best sources of bioactive compounds, contributing up to 15% of the total bioactive compounds (lopez et al., 2010). gutierrez & colleagues (2016) conducted a review of the chemistry of peperomia plants & found that they are a source of unique compounds whose bioactivities have potential use as antiparasites, antimicrobial, antiviral, cytotoxic agents against various tumoral strains & as herbicides.

another cool fact – horner (2012) found that peperomias (specifically obtusifolia) might have a photosynthetic adaptation for growing in low light environments, as their foliage contains crystals that facilitate this process.

care tips

  • bright light – i keep all of mine close to east facing windows, ranging from the window sill to several feet away
  • water when the soil is almost completely dry
  • make sure that the plant isn’t sitting in water as peperomias are susceptible to death by overwatering. most peperomias have thick, fleshy leaves, which can tolerate short periods of drought.
  • i think the coolest bit about peperomias is how easy they are to propagate. all peperomias can be propagated via tip & even leaf cuttings!

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