Pirul - Pepper Tree
American Pepper, Peruvian Peppertree, Pirul, Molle del Peru
What is Pirul?
This plant is a native to the Peruvian Andes and can be found growing in South America, in the Andean desert and in Central Argentina. This tree can be spotted by the bright pink peppercorns that grow on the tree and although it is not related to the black pepper we often use in cooking, blends of the two are easily available. The Incas are believed to have made a delicious drink from the berries by fermenting the pulp and at times, the fruit was also mixed along with maize to make a tasty porridge. The leaves of the Peruvian Pepper are known for their medicinal value and an oil was extracted from them by placing the leaves in hot water. The Incas often used the extracted oil to add a dash of color to their clothes. Moreover, it is also believed that the oil extract worked as a wonderful preservative and it was an important substance used for embalming dead bodies. It is quite possible that the Pirul extract was also used for other religious purposes.
Benefits of Pirul
Even today, the pink berries are used in a number of syrups and beverages all across Peru and are also used to flavor indigenous Chilean wines. Almost all parts of the American Peppercorn tree can be used and the leaves of this plant were used for all sorts of treatments. It could be taken internally to cure digestive disorders, as a health tonic, to cure any viral diseases and even heal wounds. The oil which is extracted from the leaves had powerful anti-bacterial properties and was often used to heal bone fractures and as a skin antiseptic cream. Tea made by brewing the leaves in hot water could cure colds and was even touted to be a natural herbal anti-depressant. The dried leaves were also used for women to cure menstrual disorders as well as urinary tract infections and even respiratory tract infections. Even today, the many wonderful properties of the American Peppercorn tree are still being studied. It is said that the bark of this tree can aid in making the circulatory system stronger, can cure a number of infections, reduce the size of tumors and also soothe inflammation of the body. The leaves can also be used as an effective astringent and can help to prevent unnatural bleeding of the gums, oral infections and gingivitis. If history is to be believed, then the leaves of the Pirul tree can even cure syphilis!
How to consume Pirul
These pink peppercorns are quite attractive to see but they are quite poisonous too and that’s why the fruit isn’t fed to livestock. Children may also suffer side effects such as nausea after consuming the fruit. In many places, the peppercorns are also used along with black pepper. A herbal tea made by brewing the leaves can work wonders for the mind and body but it’s best to consume it on the advice of a medical practitioner.