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Products > Piper elongatum
Piper elongatum - Matico

Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Piperaceae (Peppers)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: White
Bloomtime: Summer
Fragrant Flowers: Yes
Height: 6-10 feet
Width: 3-5 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Piper elongatum (Matico) - An upright shrub to 10 feet with 6 inch long lanceolate leaves that are green on the upper surface and silvery below. Plant in coastal full sun or shade and irrigate regularly to occasionally - surprisingly drought tolerant considering its origins. Has proven hardy with overhead protection to 25F and likely root hardy well below this. This is an interesting and aromatic plant that lends a somewhat tropical look to the garden. It is native to forests 3,200 to 9,200 feet in elevation in Bolivia and Peru. The name of the genus is the Latin word for Pepper (Piper nigrum) and the specific epithet is the Latin word meaning "elongated" in reference to the long narrow leaves. The common name Matico is supposed to be a reference to legend regarding an early Spanish soldier by this name who used the herd to treat a wound. This name has been used for this species as well as Piper aduncum and P. angustifolium and these are lumped by some into Piper aduncum. This plant was plant long held as a unidentified Piper species in the collection of the biology greenhouses at UCSB. It was a seedling that emerged on the root mass of another plant collected by Bill Gielow in Bolivia or Peru in 1982. Mr Gielow, who was collecting for noted bulb hybridizer the late Fred Meyers, was accompanied by Bill Baker, another Southern California plantsman we sorely miss. In 2008 we ran this plant by Dr. Allan Bornstein, who did his Ph.D dissertation at University of Michigan on "Taxonomy and evolutionary relationships of neotropical pipers" and is now a Professor of Biology at Missouri State. Dr. Bornstein told us that the correct name currently accepted for this plant in is Piper elongatum Vahl though noted disagreement in the literature as to whether this species is truly distinct from Piper aduncum but at that time he thought it merited to be a separate species and noted it abundant in Bolivia and Peru, primarily at higher elevations.  The information on this webpage is based on research conducted about this plant in our nursery library, from online sources, as well as from observations made of it as it grows in the nursery in containers, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens where we have observed it growing. We will also incorporate comments received from others and welcome getting feedback from those who may have additional information, particularly if this information includes cultural information that would aid others in growing  Piper elongatum.