Small trees, shrubs, subshrubs, or rarely herbs , erect or reclining, glabrous or pubescent. Leaves alternate, pubescent. Leaf blade conspicuously pinnately veined, lateral veins ascending-arching, connected by fainter, ladderlike, tertiary veins. Spikes opposite leaves, ascending-arching, densely flowered, distally drooping. Flowers sessile, borne on surface of rachis; floral bracts fringed with whitish hairs; stamens 2[-6]; stigmas [2-]3[-4]. Fruits sessile, oblong (inversely pyramidal-3-angled in P. auritum ); beak minute. This genus includes Piper nigrum Linnaeus, the source of black pepper and white pepper. Measurements for spike length in all descriptions include the peduncle.