FoI
Mountain Pepper   
Foto info
Mountain Pepper
D Native Photo: Thingnam Sophia
Common name: Mountain Pepper, Aromatic Litsea, May Chang • Assamese: Mejankeri • Manipuri: ꯑꯨꯁꯤꯡꯁꯥ Usingsa • Mizo: Sernam • Nepali: सिलटिमुर Sil timur
Botanical name: Litsea cubeba    Family: Lauraceae (Laurel family)
Synonyms: Litsea piperita, Laurus cubeba, Tetranthera cubeba

Mountain Pepper is a deciduous shrub or small tree, 8-10 m tall. Branchlets are hairless or silky-velvet-hairy. Leaves are alternately arranged, on hairless leaf-stalks 6-20 mm long. Leaves are lanceshaped, oblong, or elliptic, 4-11 x 1.1-2.4 cm, hairless on both surfaces or silky-velvet-hairy below, lateral veins 6-16 pairs, base wedge-shaped, tip tapering or pointed. Flowers are borne in solitary or clustered, 4-6-flowered umbels. Flowering occurs before leaves or with leaves. Flower-cluster-stalk is 2-10 mm long, reflexed or straight, hairless or silky-velvet-hairy. Male flowers have 6 tepals, broadly ovate; fertile stamens 9. Fruits are nearly spherical, about 5 mm in diameter, pepper-like black at maturity. Fruit is processed for its lemony essential oil. The oil can also be extracted from the leaf, but this is considered to be lower in quality. The timber is sometimes used for making furniture and crafts. Flowers are eaten raw with chilly chutney. Mountain Pepper is found in Eastern Himalayas, from Nepal to Bhutan, NE India, Burma, Indo-China, Java, China, Taiwan, at altitudes of 300-3200 m. Flowering: December-March.
Medicinal uses: May Chang is similar in action to Lemongrass oil due to its high citral content, however it has a finer more lemony aroma. In Traditional Chinese Medicine May Chang is used for cardiovascular and musculoskeletal ailments due to its cooling nature and it has a tonic effect on the whole body to promote wellness.

Identification credit: Huirem Bhabini Photographed in Imphal, Manipur.

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