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Family Piperaceae
Green peperomia
Peperomia obtusifolia (L.) A.Dietr.

Scientific names Common names
Peperomia antoni Trel. Baby rubberplant (Engl.)
Peperomia bayatana Trel. Blunt-leaved peperomia (Engl.)
Peperomia commutata Trel. Green peperomia (Engl.)
Peperomia cruciata Trel. Pepper face (Engl.)
Peperomia cuneifolia A. Dietr.  
Peperomia daiquiriana Trel..  
Peperomia dodecatheontophylla Trel..  
Peperomia earlei Trel..  
Peperomia fieldiana Trel..  
Peperomia floridana Small.  
Peperomia gollii Trel.  
Peperomia hemionitifiolia Sesv. & Ham..  
Peperomia lunana Trel.  
Peperomia mentiens Trel.  
Peperomia obtusifolia (L.) A.Dietr..  
Peperomia palmae Trel.  
Peperomia peninsularis Trel.  
Peperomia petenensis Trel.  
Peperomia pyrolifolia Trel.  
Peperomia romaensis Trel.  
Peperomia valerioi Trel.  
Piper cuneifolium Jacq..  
Piper humile Mill.  
Piper milleri Roem. & Schult.  
Piper obtusifolium L.  
Rhynchophorum floridanum (Small) Small.  
Rhynchophorum obtusifolium (L.) Small.  
Peperomia obtusifolia (L.) A.Dietr. is an accepted name. The Plant List

Other vernacular names
FRENCH GUIANA: Pourpier des savanes.

Peperomia obtusifolia is an evergreen, fleshy, erect, succulent herb growing up to 25 centimeters tall. Leaves are alternate, fleshy, spatulate-obovate, waxy green, up to 6 centimeters long, with a rounded or slightly notched apex and a tapering base with a short brown petiole. Spikes up to 15 centimeters long. Flowers are white, up to 12 centimeters long, growing in a shiny, winding manner.

- A popular ornamental pot plant or hanging plant and ground cover in the Philippines.
- Propagated by stem cuttings.

• A study isolated five phenolic compounds with a methyl, isoprenyl and geranyl group on a benzene ring core.
• Study of leaves and stems yielded a new flavone C-diglycoside isoswertisin-4-methyl-ether-2?-L-rhmanoside along with four known compounds: isoswertisin-2?-L-rhamnoside (2), (+)-diayangambin (3), 2-episesalatin (4) and corchoionoside C (5). (see study below) (8)
• Hydrodistillation and GC-MS study for essential oil yielded 35 constituents, of which 16 volatile compounds contribute 65.0% of total oil constituents. Major constituents were sesquiterpenes such as caryophyllene (17.17%), apiol (16.65%), α-cardinol (2.12%), and α-caryophyllene (1.90%). The monoterpenes such as R-α-pinene (1.00%), camphene (0.84%), borneal (0.32%), and limonene (0.25%) were also identified. Tau-muurolol (0.68%), t-elemene (0.63%) copaene (0.43%) and tau-cadinol (0.27%) were present in minor amounts. (9)

• Antiscorbutic, antimalarial, antiarthritic.
• Studies suggest antifungal, trypanocidal and air-cleaning properties.

- No known folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- In the Guianas, folkloric use for malaria and arthritis. Decoction of stem and leaves applied as febrifuge. Also, used for albuminuria and malaria.
- The French Guiana Wayapi crush the aerial parts into tampons on hypertrophied lesions caused by malaria.
- The Kubeo Indians of Columbia use the crushed leaves over painful arthritic joints.
- Succulent leaves used as antiscorbutic.
- Kubeo Indians of Columbia use crushed leaves as a rub to reduce arthritic pains.
- In Asian ethnomedicine, used for skin and stomach problems and diarrhea.

• Of the ethnomedicinal plants used in Trinidad and Tobago, Peperomia obtusifolia was found possibly efficacious for stomach problems, pains and internal parasites. The paper evaluated 58 ethnomedicinal plants used in Trinidad and Tobago for skin problems, stomach problems and intestinal parasites. (5)
Phenolic Compounds:
A study isolated fire phenolic compounds with a methyl, isoprenyl and geranyl group on a benzene ring core. (2)
Air-Cleaning Plant: In a sealed chamber study of potted plants in carbon filters, Peperomia obtusifolia was shown to reduce formaldehyde by 47 percent. (3)
Trypanocidal / Leaves and Stems: The trypanocidal activity of extracts from leaves and stems were evaluated in vitro against the epigmastigote forms of Trypanosoma cruzi. Study yielded seven known compounds including three chromanes, two furofuran lignans and two flavone C-diglycosides. The chromanes showed no toxicity at the level of IC50 for trypanocidal activity. (1)
Isoswertisin Flavones / Weak Antifungal Activity: Study of leaves and stems yielded a new flavone along with four known compounds. On bioautographic assay against Cladosporium cladosporioides and C. sphaerospermum, the flavones showed weak antifungal activity. (see constituents above) (8)
8-C-Rhamnosyl Apigenin (8CR) / Anti-Edema / Anti-Venom: Compound 8CR induced a moderate reduction in the enzymatic activity of secretory phospholipase A2 (sPLA2) from Crotalus durissus terrificus and cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2), and also significantly inhibited the enzymatic activity of the enzyme cyclooxygenase. Study showed the SPLA2 of C. durissus terrificus venom induces massive muscle damage and significant edema. This resulted in decrease of bioactive lipids involved in inflammation and promoted a significant cellular protection against lipid peroxidation. Results showed 8CR to be a potent anti-inflammatory that inhibits COX-2 and may modulate the enzymatic activity of sPLA2 and cPLA2. The polyphenolic compound may be significant in mitigating the pharmacologic effect induced by sPLA2 and other snake venom toxins. (10)
Anti-Inflammatory / Immunomodulatory / Leaves: Study evaluated the immunomodulatory effects of crude leaf extracts of P. obtusifolia, P gaudichaudianum, P. arboreum, P. umbellata, and P fuligineum. on an in-vitro model of inflammatory response. Results showed the crude leaf extracts amplified the anti-inflammatory response when compared to ketoprofen, the standard anti-inflammatory drug. Peperomia obtusifolia extract downmodulated the production of H2O2, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10 and TNF-α. Results suggest potential for their use in the treatment of inflammatory diseases. (11)
Reduction of Indoor Ozone: Ozone is an air pollutant commonly found in indoor environments. Office equipment such as copier machines and laser printers can emit ozone. Various materials like natural rubbers, linoleum, carpets and latex pains react with ozone. Study evaluated three common indoor plants for their effect in decreasing ozone levels: Swedish ivy (Plectranthus australis), golden pothos (Epiprenmum aureum) and pepper-face (Peperomia obtusifolia). Results showed all three plant species were effective in decreasing indoor ozone levels and can be used for maintaining a cleaner breathing environment in office settings. (12)

Can plants control indoor air pollution? Recent reports in the media and promotions by the decorative houseplant industry characterize plants as "nature's clean air machine", claiming that National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) research shows plants remove indoor air pollutants. While it is true that plants remove carbon dioxide from the air, and the ability of plants to remove certain other pollutants from water is the basis for some pollution control methods, the ability of plants to control indoor air pollution is less well established. Most research to date used small chambers without any air exchange which makes extrapolation to real world environments extremely uncertain. The only available study of the use of plants to control indoor air pollutants in an actual building could not determine any benefit from the use of plants69. As a practical means of pollution control, the plant removal mechanisms appear to be inconsequential compared to common ventilation and air exchange rates. In other words, the ability of plants to actually improve indoor air quality is limited in comparison with provision of adequate ventilation.
     While decorative foliage plants may be aesthetically pleasing, it should be noted that over damp planter soil conditions may actually promote growth of unhealthy microorganisms. (4)


Ornamental cultivation.

Updated July 2020 / October 2015

                                                 PHOTOS / ILLUSTRATIONS
Photos ©Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
In vitro Trypanocidal Activity of Phenolic Derivatives from Peperomia obtusifolia / Jonas da Silva Mota et al / Planta Med 2009; 75(6): 620-623 / DOI: 10.1055/s-0029-118536
Phenolic compounds from Peperomia obtusifolia / Tanaka T et al / Phytochemistry, 1998, vol. 49, no1, pp. 229-232

Indoor Air Pollution: An Introduction for Health Professionals / Can plants control indoor air pollution? / Environmental Protection Agency
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas (Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana)
Comparison of plants used for skin and stomach problems in Trinidad and Tobago with Asian ethnomedicine
Peperomia obtusifolia (L.) A.Dietr. / Synonyms / The Plant List
Isoswertisin flavones and other constituents from Peperomia obtusifolia. / Jonas da S Mota, Ana C Leite, Massuo J Kato, Maria Claudia M Young, Vanderlan da S Bolzani, Maysa Furlan. / Nat Prod Res., 13 Jan 2011: 25(1):pp 1-7 / doi: 10.1080/14786410903244954.
Chemical composition of essential oil from in vitro grown Peperomia obtusifolia through GC-MS / Saiqa Ilyas, Shagufta Naz, Samreen Javed, Zahida Parveen / Pakistan Journal of Botany, April 2014; 46(2): pp 667-672
Non-Clinical Studies for Evaluation of 8-C-Rhamnosyl Apigenin Purified from Peperomia obtusifolia against Acute Edema. / Tamayose CL, Romoff P, Toyama DO, Gaeta HH, Costa CRC, Belchor MN, Ortolan BD et al / International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 14 Sept 2017; 18(9): / DOI: 10.3390/ijms18091972 / PMID: 28906474 / PMCID: PMC5618621
Crude leaf extracts of Piperaceae species downmodulate inflammatory responses by human monocytes / Angela Carolina Finato, Thais Fernanda Fraga-Silva, Amanda Uliana Carvalho Prati, Amauri Alves de Souza Júnior, Bruna Fonseca Mazzeu, Lidiane Gaspareto Felippe, Rute Alves Pinto, Marjorie de Assis Golim, Maria Sueli Parreira Arruda, Maysa Furlan, James Venturini  / PLOS ONE / https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0198682
Effectiveness of Plants in Reducing Ozone as an Indoor Air Pollutant / E Jay Holcomb and Dennis Decoteau / Special Research Report # 435 / Department of Horticulture, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16802

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

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