Pimenta do mato
Forest pepper (Piper Guineense) is present throughout all of western Africa. In the small island nation Sao Tomé and Principe the plant grows wildly, especially on the island Principe and in the zone of the Parque Obo of Sao Tomé. The plant is quite robust and can grow up to about ten meters tall. The stalk where the flowers grow is curved and the pepper corns are quite small, black with red marks and have a very strong and persistent flavor. They can be found in local markets, but only in small quantities.
In the past this pepper was used widely on the islands, though today people prefer to use the dried wood of the pepper tree to flavor their foods. The bark holds in the flavor of the pepper corns, though with less of the aroma, which is why the people in this zone prefer to use the bark directly, rather than waiting for the pepper corns to mature. In this case the product is known as “pau pimenta”, literally “pepper sticks”, a bit like cinnamon sticks.
The forest pepper risks disappearing due to this habit of cutting the bark off of the trees before they are able to become productive, thus limiting their growth.
Furthermore, there is another, very dangerous consumer of the pepper: the black cobra, who lives in the forest and loves to eat the pepper.