• The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World

CUBEB PEPPER ( Piper cubeba L. )
Names in Other Languages:

English Cubeb pepper, Java pepper, Javanese peppercorn, West African black pepper.
French Poivre de Java, Cubèbe, Poivre à queue
German Kubebenpfeffer, Jawanischer Pfeffer, Schwanzpfeffer, Stielpfeffer
Spanish Cubeba.
Italian Cubebe, Pepe a coda.
Turkish Hint biberi tohomu, Java biberi, Kübabe, Kuyruklu biber
Japanese クベバKubeba, クベブKubebu

FAMILY: Piperaceae

ORIGIN:   : Indonesia. Most cubeb pepper is today harvested in Jawa and other Indonesian islands, but also from some African countries (Sierra Leone, Congo), cubeb pepper is exported.

Cubeb peppercorns


This is the small, red-brown irregular seeds of a cardamom-like plant. The seeds are 3-4 mm (1/8”) in diameter and are numerously contained in a brown wrinkled, fig-shaped dried capsule about 30mm (1-1/4”) in length; they have a white kernel. They are rarely found in the West.

USEFUL PARTS: Fruit. The stalked berries are a little bit larger than pepper corns, having a furrowed surface. Most berries are hollow. They are sold whole and should be crushed or ground before usage.

SENSORY PROPERTIES: Pungent and bitter with a strong terpene aroma. The aroma is variously described dry-woody, warm-camphoraceous and spicy-peppery


The dried fruits contain up to 10% essential oil composed of monoterpenes (sabinene 50%, carene, α-thujene, 1,4-cineol and 1,8-cineol) and sesquiterpenes (copaene, α- and β-cubebene, δ-cadinene, caryophyllene, germacrene, cubebol). The monoterpenes dominate by mass, but the sesquiterpenes are important for the characteristic flavour. The pungency is caused by the lignane cubebin (2%) and several related compounds: hinokinin, clusin, dihydroclusin, dihydrocubebin and more. In the fresh leaves of P. guineense, mostly phenylpropanoids (dillapiole, furthermore myristicin, elemicin) and minor amounts of terpenes (α-phellandrene) were found


Cubeb is used in local Indonesian cookery, especially in Indonesian gulés (curries). It was once popular in Arab cooking. Although there are no specific uses for cubeb in modern Western cookery, it was popular in the Middle Ages and in moderation may still be used to effect both as a spice and a pepper substitute. Because of its aromatic qualities, cubeb would go well with meat, cheese and vegetable dishes. It may be substituted for pepper in spice mixtures such as quatre-épices for flavouring patés, sausages, gingerbreads and spiced biscuits. Another use for cubeb is in place of allspice, where it will give a more peppery flavour.


Cubeb berry is considered a carminative, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, and antiseptic. It has often been used in the treatment of gonorrhea. Cubeb Berry has been shown to be effective in easing the symptoms of chronic bronchitis. It is also used for digestive ailments and is effective in treating dysentery. Cubeb also has a local stimulating effect on the mucous membranes of the urinary and respiratory tracts. The herb has often been associated with the reproductive system and has been used to treat cystitis, leucorrhea, urethritis, and prostate infections. Its action in regards to genital problems have led many to believe that cubeb has aphrodisiacal properties and is often used in traditional love spells.