Hundreds of gigantic shady plants and trees which were occupying both sides of the national highway routes were chopped off by the highways authorities during road expansion projects and they have not bothered to sow new seeds after chopping off the trees. This is nothing but danger signal since plants and trees plays a very important role in ecological protection. This topic will deal with a plant named Cubeb or tailed pepper which comes under the family Piperaceae. The botanical name of this plant is Piper cubeba.
It was traded during 1640 and was also used for medicinal purposes in Europe during 19th century. It vanished from the European market after that period. Cubeb is used as a flavoring agent in gins and cigarettes in the West and also as a seasoning for food in Indonesia. This plant is one of the oldest plants in the world since a famous person Theophrastus mentioned about this plant during 4th century BC. Various studies confirm that Greek has traded with Java even before 4th century BC. During Tang Dynasty cubeb was brought to China from India. Indians call this plant as kabab chini. Chinese called this plant as vilenga and vidanga. The physicians who belonged to Tang dynasty used this plant for many treatments such as to restore appetite, cure “demon vapors”, darken the hair, and perfume the body. However, there is no evidence showing that it was used as a condiment in China.
History And Its Cultivation
This plant is mainly cultivated for its fruit and essential oil. Cubeb is abundantly found in Java and Sumatra. It is also referred to as Java Pepper. The fruits are harvested before it becomes ripe and are carefully dried. The seeds are hard, white and oily. The odor of the cubebs is rich in fragrance and the taste is slightly pungent and bitter. It reached Europe through India during the trade with the Arabs. The names cubeb come from the Arabic word kababa.
Various Uses Of Cubeb
- The dried cubeb berries contain essential oil consisting monoterpenes.
- The ancient texts of Ayurveda include cubeb in various remedies.
- Charaka and sushruta used it as a mouthwash and for other dental diseases.
- Unani physicians used the paste on male and female genitals to increase the sexual pleasure.
- Many countries in the world used this plant for medicinal purposes.
- Europeans were using cubeb as a culinary item right from 14th century and many countries including Africa and Arab use it as a flavor in soups.
- Cubeb was frequently used in the form of cigarettes for asthma, chronic pharyngitis and hay fever.
Interesting Facts About Cubeb
In the famous book “one thousand and one nights” which was compiled during 9th century mentions cubeb as a remedy for impotence. This shows that this plant was used during 9th century. The Arabians used cubeb in their cuisine during 10th century. There are many evidences to show that Cubeb was traded during 9th century to 14th century. Chinese and other countries use this plant to exorcise ghosts. Indonesians exported Cubeb to United States during 20th century which diminished and ceased after 1940.