Artanthe adunca (L.) Miq.
Artanthe celtidifolia (Kunth) Miq.
Artanthe elongate (Vahl) Miq.
Artanthe galleoti Miq.
Piper aduncifolium Trel.
Piper anguillaespicum Trel.
Piper angustifolium Ruiz & Pav.
Piper celtidifolium Kunth
Piper cuatrecasasii Trel.
Piper cumbricola Trel.
Piper disparispicum Trel.
Piper elongatifolium Trel.
Piper elongatum Vahl
Piper fatoanum C.DC.
Piper flavescens (C.DC.) Trel.
Piper herzogii C.DC.
Piper illudens Trel.
Piper intersitum Trel.
Piper kuntzei C.DC.
Piper multinervium M.Martens & Galeotti
Piper multinervium Trel.
Piper nonconformans Trel.
Piper purpurascens D.Dietr.
Piper reciprocum Trel.
Piper stevensonii Trel. & Standl.
Piper submolle Trel.
Steffensia adunca (L.) Kunth
Steffensia elongate (Vahl) Kunth
Common Name: Matico
Piper aduncum is an evergreen shrub or small tree with a spreading crown; it can grow from 2 - 8 metres tall. The bole is around 7cm in diameter, often with prop-roots and often branching at or near the base[
A very popular herbal remedy, the plant is commonly gathered from the wild and is sold locally. It is sometimes cultivated to provide soil cover and the plant also has ornamental value[
S. America - Brazil, Bolivia and Peru, north to the Caribbean and through Central America to Mexico.
Open or disturbed areas, roadsides, forest edges and along streams[
]. Disturbed rainforest areas and forest margins[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
A plant of tropical regions, found mainly at lower elevations up to 1,000 metres, but extending to over 2,000 metres in places. It grows best in areas with a mean annual rainfall from 1.500 - 4,000mm or more[
The plant is moderately intolerant of shade, as it requires at least partial exposure to sunlight for it to reach a large size and flower[
]. It colonizes most soil types, apart from excessively well-drained soils (where it only grows at the upper end of the rainfall range); dry soils; and salty soils[
An invader of disturbed areas, where it is able to form thickets and spread by sprouts and suckers[
]. The plant has spread through cultivation and has become naturalized in many areas including southeast Asia, the Pacific and north America. It has been declared a noxious weed in parts of N. America and is a problem in some Pacific Islands, where it can interfere with the harvesting of the related kava plant[
]. It requires high light levels and a bare soil surface, which means that disturbance is necessary for this species to establish[
]. The tree produces cord-like, white to pale yellow, inflorescence spikes that contain many minute flowers that are wind-pollinated and that soon develop into numerous tiny drupes with black seeds. The seeds are then scattered easily by bats and birds[
]. From these many seeds, it can form large stands of quickly-growing shrubby trees that can choke out other native vegetation[
]. Established plants also thicken into clumps or stands by suckers arising from the root crown[
The plant can flower and produce fruit all year round[
The fruits, leaves and seeds have a peppery taste and aroma[
The fruits are used as a spice[
]. A peppery flavour[
]. When black and ripe, they are said to be very sweet[
Leaves - cooked and eaten as a potherb[
Matico has a long history of traditional use in S. America, where it was valued especially for its antiseptic qualities and used to treat wounds etc. These uses were quickly adopted by the incoming Europeans and the plant has maintained its role in modern herbalism.
Modern research has confirmed the presence of a range of medically active compounds in the plant, including flavonoids, sequiterpenes, monoterpenes, heterocycles, phenylpropanoids, alkaloids, and benzenoids[
A group of chemicals called chromenes have been found in the leaves (and in its essential oil) which have evidenced toxic effects to cancer cells and bacteria[
Other chemicals, including a group of bezenoid chemicals, have also demonstrated antibacterial and cytotoxic actions as well[
The plant has demonstrated broad spectrum antimicrobial actions, which may help to explain its long history of use for various infections and infectious diseases. In various studies, the leaves and the essential oil extracted from the leaves or the fruits have demonstrated antibacterial actions against various gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. It has also been reported with actions against fungi and yeast. In addition, researchers in France reported it had antiviral actions against the polio virus[
In two studies, the plant has been shown to be an effective treatment for leishmaniasis, a parasitic, tropical disease spread that is spread by the bite of infected sand flies. Both the plant, and an extracted chalcone compound in the plant, were reported to either kill the parasite or treat the disease[
In the treatment of other parasitic infections, matico has been shown to be useful in the treatment of schistosomiasis, where it has a molluscicidal action against the fresh water snail that carry the parasite, as well as against the parasite itself[
]. It also has insecticidal actions against the mosquito that carries and spreads yellow fever[
The leaves are antimicrobial, astringent, carminative, diuretic, a mild aromatic tonic, stimulant, stomachic, and internal styptic[
Taken as an infusion, the leaves are widely used as a remedy for all types of digestive disorders including stomach aches, vomiting, dyspepsia, diarrhoea, gastric ulcers, intestinal gas and even stomach cancer; they are considered an excellent genitourinary tonic and are used in the treatment of kidney stones, urinary tract infections, cystitis, urethritis, leucorrhoea, vaginitis, and various venereal diseases such as gonorrhoea and trichomonas; they are also employed for various upper respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, pulmonary haemorrhages, pleurisy, pneumonia, colds and flu, and tonsillitis[
The leaves are an effective antiseptic wound healer, used to stop bleeding, prevent infections and to speed healing. They are either crushed or powdered and sprinkled directly onto the affected area, or an infusion is made from the leaves and used as a wash[
]. Sometimes the leaves are heated, pounded and then used as a poultice instead[
The plant is cultivated locally as a soil cover[
An essential oil in the leaves contains asarone and coneol[
]. It can be used as an insecticide and a molluscicide[
It also contains safrol, which has been used successfully in making powerful insecticides, fragrances, soaps and detergent products[
The whitish wood is medium hard, brittle[
]. Although small, it can be used for basic construction, fuel, stakes and fences[