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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Order: Piperales

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > magnoliids

Four families, all of which are encountered in southern Africa. Of the 17 genera and 4090 species worldwide, four genera and 15 species are native to southern Africa, two species are naturalised, and an additional 18 species are cultivated in the region.

Families encountered in southern Africa


Rootless, leafless, fungus-looking plants that in southern Africa are parasitic on Euphorbia, Acacia and Albizia species. Two genera and seven species (Africa, Madagascar, Arabia, South and Central America) with one genus (Hydnora) and three species native to southern Africa .


Eight genera and 480 species (on all continents), Aristolochia (pipevines, Dutchman's pipes) is the only genus represented in southern Africa with three native species, one naturalised, and an additional seven species that are cultivated in the region.

Piperaceae (pepper family)

Five genera and about 3600 species (pantropical), with two genera (Piper and Peperomia) and nine species native to southern Africa . An additional 11 species are cultivated in the region, including Piper nigrum (Black pepper).


Five genera and six species (North America and east Asia). One species, Houttuynia cordata (Dokudami), originates from east Asia and is cultivated in southern Africa.