Mexican Pepperleaf is a special plant that is used in cooking and medicine. It grows in tropical forests in Latin America. In Spanish it is called Hierba santa or Hoja santa (holy plant or leaf). In Nahuatl, an indigenous language from Mexico, it is called Tlanecpahquílitl. Its scientific name is Piper auritum.
People call this plant the Mexican Pepperleaf because its leaves have a spicy flavor. The leaves are used as a seasoning for soups, stews, vegetables and meats. They can even be eaten raw in a salad.
Mexican Pepperleaf is also used as medicine. People drink tea made with its leaves to get rid of pain. In parts of Colombia, the plant is used to treat snakebites. In Costa Rica, people eat it when they have a headache. The oils from the plant can also keep insects away.
Mexican Pepperleaf is a special plant in Latin America, but in other parts of the world, people are trying to get rid of it. It grows very quickly, and can grow up to twenty feet tall. In places like Hawaii and Florida, its quick growth has hurt native forests.