Piper retrofractum Vahl

Last updated: 13 June 2017

Scientific Name

Piper retrofractum Vahl


Piper chaba Hunter, Piper officinarum (Miq.) C. DC., Chavica officinarum Miq. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Chabai jawa, lada panjang [2][3]
English Javanese pepper, java long pepper[2]
China Jia bi ba [2]
India Gajapipali, chevuyam[2]
Indonesia Cabe jawa (Java); cabi sola (Madura); lada panjang (Melayu)[2][3]
Philippines Amaras (Ilicano); boyo,boyo, kayungo, litlit, sabia, sali mara, saog matsing, subon-manok (Tagalong) [2]
France Poivre long de java [2]
German Javanischer langer Pfeffer [2]

Geographical Distributions

Piper retrofractum introduced in Taiwan, Java, India, peninsular Malaysia (Melaka, Johor), Singapore, China (Guangdong (introduced), Nepal, Philippines (Babuyan, Luzon, Mindoro, Palawan, Guimaras), Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Moluccas, Lesser Antilles (introduced) (Martinique (introduced)), Virgin Isl. (introduced) (St. Thomas (introduced)). [2]

Botanical Description

P. retrofractum is a vine from the Piperaceae family. [2][3]

The stem can reach up to 12 m in length. [2][3]

The leaves are short-petioled, green in colour, oblong-ovate or elliptic-lanceolate in shape, measuring 6-7.5 cm long and 3.2-8.5 cm wide, chartaceous. The base is sublateral or inequilateral, pointed or slightly cordate with tips acute. It is penninerved, the lateral nerves 7–11 on each side of the midrib, ascending. [2][3]

The male spikes are 3.8 to 8.5 cm long and 2.5 to 4.5 mm in diameter; the bracts are somewhat stalked and peltate. There are 2-3 stamens which are stalkless. [2][3]

The female spikes are oblong in shape when matured, red in colour, fleshy, cylindric, 3 to 6.5 cm long, 6.5 to 11 mm in diameter, the rachis is smooth and the bracts are stalkless and peltate. [2][3]

The fruit is more or less united partly or wholly imbedded in and concrescent with rachis. [2][3]

The seeds are subglobose to obovoid-globose, 2 to 2.5 mm. [2][3]


No documentation

Chemical Constituent

P. retrofractum has been reported to contain 1-undecylenyl-3,4-methyllenedioxy benzene, α-amyrin, β-sitosterol, chavicine, cineol terpinan-4,1-betacaryophylene, fructose, glucose, guineesine, N-isobutyl-decatrans-2-trans-4-dienanmide, palmatic acid, pellitorine, piperidine, pipereicosalidine, piperine, piperlonguminirine, pipernonaline, piperoctadecalidine, piplartine, retrofractamide-D, sesamin, tetrahydropiperic acid, veneol. [4][5][6][7][8]

Plant Part Used

Roots, leaves and fruits [1][6][7]

Traditional Use

In Indonesia, where it is native, the plant is used to treat neurasthenia, rheumatism and bronchitis. A gargle made from the leaves is used to treat stomatitis. The fruit of P. retrofractum is considered a carminative and is used to treat stomach distension or flatulence. The decoction of the ripe fruit is a remedy for diarrhoea. Powdered ripe fruit is inserted into tooth cavity to relieve toothache. The fruit is considered a tonic and is given to women after delivery to help in reviving while at the same time clean the uterus. [2][7][8]

The roots also treat dyspepsia, colic and gastralgia in this case it is either chewed on or brewed into tea to be consumed orally. Decoction of the root is also used to treat flatulence. [7][8][9]

Preclinical Data


Antiprotozoal activity

An amide isolated from the hezane extract of P. retrofractum showed activity against leishmanial parasite in vitro. Piplarine in the dose of 100 IM was able to inhibit leishmanial activity in vitro and this is further verified in vivo where at a dose of 30 mg/kg there was significant inhibition of visceral leishmaniasis in hamster model. [10]

Antibacterial activity

Khan et al evaluated the antimicrobial activity of various extracts of the fruits of different Piper species including P. retrofractum. They findings showed that the various extracts of the fruit of P. retrofractum showed activities against the following organisms: Staphylococcus albus, Salmonella typhi, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli and Bacillus megaterium including the fungus Aspergillus niger. [11]


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

Androgenic activity

A single blind designed study was carried out to determine androgenic effects of P. retrofractum on adult hypogonadism patients in Indonesia. It was observed that the extract could increase blood testosterone level in 78% of cases, at 100 mg/day there was no decrease in FSH and LH levels and did not affect the PSA and body weight. At this dose there was weak androgenic activity as evidenced in the increase in the frequency of coitus. [12]

Adverse reaction

No documentation

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing

No documentation


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Piper retrofractum Vahl [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Apr 18; cited 2016 July 10]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/tro-25004117
  2. Catalogue of Life. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World. Piper retrofractum Vahl (Maingay ex C.B.Clarke) K.M.Wong & Sugumaran. [homepage on the Internet]. c2015 [updated 2017 Febuary 14; cited 2017 June 14] Available from: http://www.gbif.org/species/3086342
  3. Hariana HA. 262 Tumbuhan obat dan khasiatnya. Jakarta: Penebar Swadaya, 2013; p. 71-73
  4. Jong WA, Chong OL, Eun JK, Ok PZ, Hyung JK. Piperoctadecalindine, a new piperidine alkaloid from Piper retrofractum fruits. BKCSDE. 1992;13(4):388-391
  5. Ahn JW, Ahn MJ, Zee OP, Kim EJ, Lee SG, Kim HJ, Isao K. Piperidine alkaloids from Piper retrofractum fruits. Phytochemistry. 1992;31(10):3609-3612
  6. Banerji A, Sarkar M, Datta R, Sengupta P, Abraham K. Amides from Piper brachystachyum and Piper retrofractum. Phytochemistry. 2002;59(8):897-901.
  7. Sri Wahyuni, Sofia Andalusia, Syamsul Hidayat. Seri Tumbuhan Obat Berpotensi Hias 2. Jakarta: PT Elex Media Komputindo, 2009; pg. 94
  8. Khare CP, editor. Indian medicinal plants: An illustrated dictionary. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2007; p. 94
  9. Soenanto H, Sos SKS. Obat traditional untuk pasangan suamik istri. Jakarta: PT Elex Media Komputindo, 2009; p. 30.
  10. Bodiwala HS., Singh G, Singh R, et al. Antileishmanial amides and lignans from Piper cubeba and Piper retrofractum. J Nat Med. 2007;61:418–421
  11. Khan M, Siddiqui M. Antimicrobial activity of Piper fruits. NPR. 2007;6(2):111-113
  12. Moeloek N, Lestari S, Midoen HY, Wahjoedi B. Clinical study of Piper Retrofractum Vahl. (Javanese long pepper) extracts as an androgenic phytopharmaca in male hypogonadism. Madjalah Kedokteran Indonesia. 2010;60(6):255-262.