The plants that provide Ashanti pepper are vines that can grow up to 20m in length, climbing up boles of trees by means of adventitious roots. These are native to topical regions of Central and Western Africa and are semi-cultivated in countries such as Nigeria where the leaves (known as uziza) are used as a flavoring for stews. Like other members of the pepper family, Ashanti peppers contain 5-8% of the chemical piperine which gives them their 'heat'. They contain large amounts of beta-caryophyllene, which is being investigated as an anti-inflammatory agent. They also contain significant proportions (10%) of myristicin, elemicin, safrole and dillapiol.
In terms of flavor, Ashanti pepper is very similar to cubeb pepper but is much less bitter and has a fresher more herbaceous flavor. Though known in Europe during the Middle Ages (it was a common spice in Rouen and Dieppe in 14th Century France), these days, its use is marginalized to West and Central Africa.
It is used in West African cuisine where it imparts "heat" (piquantness) and a spicy, pungent aroma to
Research shows that Ashanti peppers have preservative and anti-oxidant properties. In a comparison study of three native West African peppers on the preservation of catfish, Ashanti peppers were discovered to be the most effective.