Piperales - Order
The order Piperales contains five families, but only two,
the Pepper family (Piperaceae) and the Lizard Tail family
(Saururaceae) provide anything of culinary interest, so those
are the only ones we will cover here. The
Pepper Order has it's own page.
Laurales - Order
The order Laurales contains seven families, but only one,
the Laurel Family provides much of culinary interest, so we are
lumping family Gomortegaceae, which has only one species, in with
the Laurels. The
Laurel Family has it's own page.
Magnoliales - Order
This order contains six families. We have split this order into
two pages because the culinary usage of the Family Annonaceae
is so different from the others. The major family not considered here
is the Magnolia / Tulip Tree family (Magnoliaceae) famous for
flowering trees and wood, but providing no culinary value.
Custard Apple Family - Annonaceae
This family includes a number of important tropical fruits native to
North, Central and South America, though some are now grown in
Southeast Asia. The
Custard Apple Family has it's own page.
Nutmeg Family - Myristicaceae
The Nutmeg Family has over 440 species in about 20 genera, but our
listing is not large. I'm sure there are many more species with
culinary value, but my primary information comes from botanists, who
could care less about culinary or any other uses - they're interested
in identification and naming.
We include on this page also the family Eupomatiaceae, a
family of only four known species, only one of which has culinary
Drawing of Nutmeg plant by Franz Eugen Köhler
from Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen, copyright expired. The
Nutmeg Family has it's own page.
Canellales - Order
This Order contains only two families, and of the two only
Winteraceae provides anything of culinary interest. These
southern hemisphere plants are part of the "Antarctic Flora" from
when Antarctica was warm and before the continents broke apart.
[Mountain Horopito, Pepperwood; Pseudowintera colorata of
This tree is native to New Zealand. It has primitive characteristics
indicating it is one of the earliest flowering plants. The spicy hot
leaves of this tree have become a common spice in New Zealand, usually
dried and powdered, and used similarly to black pepper. It has long
been used as a medicinal, both by the native Maori and European
Settlers. Photo by Peganum distributed under license
Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Unported.
- [Mountain Pepper; Tasmannia lanceolata
| also Dorrigo Pepper; Tasmannia stipitata - both of
family Winteraceae, order Canellales]
Native to Australia, these "peppercorns" look much like dried black
peppercorns but have a pungency and numbing effect on the tongue
similar to Sichuan peppercorns. Both dried berries and dried leaves
carry the spiciness and both are used in cooking, usually dried and
powdered. This plant is grown commercially in Australia and some is
exported to Japan to be used to flavor wasabe paste (whether real
wasabe or the horseradish paste also called "wasabe" I do not know).
Both leaves and berries also show strong antimicrobial activity and
are high in antioxidants.
Photo by Melburnian distributed under license Creative
Attribution 3.0 Unported..