Scientific Classification:

Kingdom Plantae
Unranked Angiosperms
Unranked Magnoliids
Order Piperales
Family Piperaceae
Genus Piper
Species P. cubeba
Binomial name Piper cubeba

Other Common Names:

The other common names for the cubeb are Java pepper, climbing pepper of Java and tailed pepper.


Unani physicians use a paste of the cubeb berries externally on male and female genitals to intensify sexual pleasure during coitus. Due to this attributed property cubebs were called "Habb-ul-Uruus". This use may have been the basis of cubeb as a legendary aphrodisiac. Outside of culinary use as a "red alternative" to black pepper, cubeb is little used in the West. In Tibetan medicine, cubeb is one of bzang po drug, six fine herbs beneficial to specific organs in the body. Cubeb is assigned for the spleen. Cubeb is derived from the Arabic name kababa, by way of Old French quibibes.

Cubeb is mentioned in alchemical writings by its Arabic name. John Parkinson in his book botanicum tells that the king of Portugal prohibited the sale of cubeb in order to promote black pepper around 1640. It experienced a brief resurgence in 19th century Europe for medicinal uses, but has practically vanished from the European market since. It continues to be used as a flavouring agent for gins and cigarettes in the West, and as a seasoning for food in Indonesia. Cubeb was introduced to Arabic cuisine around the 10th century.


A climbing perennial plant, with dioecious flowers in spikes. The leaves are from four to six and a half inches long by one and a half to two inches broad, ovate-oblong, acuminate, and very smooth. Flowers arranged in spikes at the end of the branches; fruit, a berry rather longer than that of black pepper Odor is aromatic and taste is pungent and somewhat bitter.

Commercial cubebs are often adulterated with other fruits containing a volatile oil, but with very different properties. It is extensively grown in the coffee plantations, well shaded and supported by the coffee trees. The dried pericarp is wrinkled; its colour ranges from greyish-brown to black. The seed is hard, white and oily. The odor of cubebs is described as agreeable and aromatic. It has been described as tasting like allspice, or like a cross between allspice and black pepper. There is no evidence that the plant was known to the ancients, though it was probably brought into Europe by the Arabians, who doubtless employed the fruit as pepper.


Cubeb is a native of Indonesian islands and other islands of Indian ocean and is commonly seen in Java and Sumatra. It is also now cultivated in Europe, Penang, and other parts of East Indies.


Piper species have a pantropical distribution, and are most commonly found in the understory of lowland tropical rainforests, but can also occur in clearings and in higher elevation life zones such as cloud forests.Itcan tolerate light winter frost.


Peper originates from the warm tropic humid latitudes where temperature of 25 degree centigrade and 2.000-4.000 mm annual rainfall predominate. The plant places heavy demand on the soil. The best types are nutrient rich well drained alluvial soils or volcanic soils with high organic material content. In pepper sexual propagation causes a genetic splitting which can lead to plants with separated sexes being produced. Seeds are won by soaking fully ripened berries in water for 2-3 days then removing the meat and drying them in the shade. Then they are planted out in moist shaded beds filled with a mixture of humus and lots of sand at a distance of one hand width apart. They will begin to germinate after 30 days and can be transplanted to their final sites after a further 6 months when they have produced four leaves.

Parts Used


The dried, full-grown or unripe fruit are the most commonly used parts of the plant for its commercial and medicinal purposes.

Flowering Season

The flowers of the cubeb are generally in bloom during the summer.

Pests and Diseases

The insects most likely to affect the plants are slugs & snails, aphids (greenfly/blackfly), pepper maggots, whitefly and nematodes. Flea beetles, cutworms, hornworms, thrips, spider mites and leafminers are less common. The maggots feed on the core inside of the pods which causes damaged peppers to turn red prematurely and rot. Anthracnose is caused by the fungi Colletotrichum piperatum and C.capsici and is promoted by warm temperatures, high moisture and poor circulation among the plants cubeb are susceptible to this disorder.

Medicinal Applications


• Cubeb acts as stimulant, expectorant, carminative, antiseptic, and diuretic properties.

• Cubeb is used in various remedies, including as a legendary aphrodisiac.

• It is an excellent remedy for flour albus or whites.

• It cleanses the head of flegm and strengthens the brain; they heat the stomach and provoke lust.

• It acts particularly on mucous tissues, and arrests excessive discharges, especially from the urethra.

• It exercises an influence over the urinary apparatus, rendering the urine of deeper colour.

• It is employed in the treatment of gonorrhoea.

• A small percentage of cubeb was commonly included in lozenges designed to alleviate bronchitis, in which the antiseptic and expectoral properties of the drug are useful.

• It is also used in leucorrhoea, cystitis, urethritis, abscesses of the prostate gland, piles and chronic bronchitis.

• Dried cubebs were used internally for oral and dental diseases, loss of voice, halitosis, fevers, and cough.

Commercial Applications


• Cubeb paste was used as a mouth wash.

• It is used in seasoning for meat or used in sauces.

• Cubeb is used in savory dishes and in pastries like markouts, little diamonds of semolina with honey and dates.

• As an aromatic confectionery, cubeb was often candied and eaten whole.

• It is involved in the manufacturing of anti-aging products.

• It continues to be used as a flavouring agent for gins and cigarettes in the West, and as a seasoning for food in Indonesia.

• Commercially cubeb is used as a refreshing agent.


The astro reports for the climbing perennial cubeb says that it is strongly under the influence of the planet Mars.

Folklores and Myths

Cubeb was thought to be repulsive to demons in Europe as it was in China. Ludovico Maria Sinistrari, a Catholic priest who wrote about methods of exorcism in the late 17th century, includes cubeb as an ingredient in making incense that wards off incubus. Even today, his formula of the incense is quoted by neopagan authors, some of whom also claim that cubeb can be used in love sachets and spells. Cubeb is believed by many people to bring about good luck in love affairs.

They are said to make women willing and to make men ready and increase their nature. Some of our customers tell us that they like to use cubeb when they want to meet a new lover. They say that if you add the berries to your bath and then sprinkle the used bath water and berries in your yard, you will soon meet someone who will become close to you. Other folks tell us that they carry cubeb in a Red Conjure Bag, and they claim that when they meet someone new whom they desire, the man or woman they want will melt in their arms and can be easily led into love.