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Products > Piper elongatum
Piper elongatum - Matico
Image of Piper elongatum
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Piperaceae (Peppers)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: White
Bloomtime: Summer
Fragrant Flowers: Yes
Synonyms: [P. aduncum]
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 pebbly textured lanceolate leaves that are green on the upper surface and silvery below. In late spring through summer appear the 6 inch long white drooping spikes bearing tiny flowers.

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.

Piper elongatum 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 Fred Meyers, was accompanied by Bill Baker, another Southern California plantsman all three of these horticultural giants and now since passed and we sorely miss them all. 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 is Piper elongatum Vahl though he noted there was 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 current treatment in World Flora Online is that Piper elongatum Vahl is a synonym of P. aduncum L. but when we last checked on Kew's Plants of the World Online database, Piper elongatum Vahl is listed as a valid name and so we continue to list it under this name. 

This information about Piper elongatum displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.