Black pepper, Piper nigrum, is a climbing perennial plant in the family Piperaceae which is grown for its fruits. The fruits are used to produce black, white and green peppercorns which are commonly used as a spice in cooking. Black pepper may be vining or have bushy, wooden stems. The plant has simple, alternating leaves which are oval in shape and produces clusters, or spikes, of 50 to 150 flowers. The fruits develop on the flower spike and are small spherical fruits which are green and ripen to red. Each stem can produce 20–30 spikes. Black pepper can grow to be 10 m (33 ft) in height but under cultivation it is usually restricted to 3-4 m (10–13 ft). It is a perennial plant which can live for over 30 years, with a commercial lifespan of 12–20 years. Black pepper may also be referred to as pepper or Madagascar pepper and is native to South and Southeast Asia.