Black peppercorns are the fruit that are harvested from the flowering vine Piper nigrum in the family Piperaceae. They are picked before they are fully ripe, then they are boiled and dried. Native to India, pepper is also cultivated in other tropical regions today. The spice is known to stimulate the appetite. When crushed, peppercorns can be used as a crunchy, spicy coating for meats.