White pepper (Piper nigrum) is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae. Black and white peppercorns are both the fruit of the pepper plant, but they are processed differently. Black peppercorns are picked when almost ripe and sun-dried, turning the outer layer black. White pepper is prepared by having the outer layer removed before or after drying, leaving only the inner seed. Peppercorns are widely believed to the most commonly used culinary spice in the world. It has been used throughout history in herbal medicine and to preserve food.