Black pepper is native to South India (Tamil: milagu, மிளகு;Kannada:meNasu, ಮೆಣಸು:Malayalam:Kuru Mulaku;Telugu: miriyam, మిరియం;Konkani: Miriya Konu;) and is extensively cultivated there and elsewhere in tropical regions. The fruit, known as a peppercorn when dried, is a small drupe five millimetres in diameter, dark red when fully mature, containing a single seed.
Dried ground pepper is one of the most common spices in European cuisine and its descendants, having been known and prized since antiquity for both its flavour and its use as a medicine. The spiciness of black pepper is due to the chemical piperine. Ground black peppercorn, usually referred to simply as "pepper", may be found on nearly every dinner table in some parts of the world, often alongside table salt.