Black and Pink Peppercorns: Photo Credit, Fotolia
Black and Pink Peppercorns: Photo Credit, Fotolia

As an aromatherapist, I am always discovering new aromas and essential oils! Recently, I tried pink pepper essential oil, a totally unrelated essential oil to black pepper, but with some similar characteristics and uses. Here’s a quick look at the differences and similarities between these two types of pepper essential oils.

Botanical Profile of Black Pepper Essential Oil

Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is a member of the Piperaceae botanical family. It is a perennial woody vine with heart-shaped leaves and small, white flowers. Black pepper is indigenous to India and China, but it is now cultivated in places with a similar climate – such as Malaysia and Indonesia.

Black pepper essential oil is extracted by steam distillation of the dried and crushed peppercorns. It has a warm, woody, spicy aroma.

Botanical Profile of Pink Pepper Essential Oil

Pink pepper (Schinus molle) is a member of the Anacardiaceae botanical family, and therefore is totally unrelated (botanically) to black pepper. Pink pepper takes its name from the pink fruits that it bears, although it is also known as Peruvian pepper, American pepper and the Californian pepper tree, depending upon locale. Pink pepper is an evergreen tree with small, white flowers and year-round, trademark pink fruits. It is native to South America but has now become naturalized in many countries of the world.

Pink pepper, or pink peppercorn, essential oil is extracted by steam distillation of the the pink fruit (peppercorns). It consists of an array of aroma notes and is described as warm, sweet, dry, and spicy, with a mix of fruity and floral notes, too. Personally, I find it less spicy than black pepper essential oil, but with a warm, juniper-like aroma.

Pepper as an Aroma

Black pepper essential oil is usually mixed with other essential oils in an aromatherapy blend due to its quite powerful, spicy aroma; however, it has many beneficial properties and, used in moderation, can be a great oil for aromatherapy purposes.

Pink pepper essential oil, being less “spicy,” is becoming a popular aroma in terms of natural perfumery uses. describes it as a “fruity floral” note and it is found in many commercial perfumes, such as Chanel, YSL, and Trésor.

Uses of Pepper Essential Oil

In aromatherapy use, black pepper essential oil is recommended for muscle pain, arthritis, poor circulation, and respiratory complaints. Pink pepper essential oil is recommended for similar uses. Both essential oils are not compatible in use with homeopathy treatments.

Black pepper and pink pepper essential oil are interchangeable for both aromatherapy and perfumery purposes, even though they are not botanically related.

Learn More About Essential Oils with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn more about using essential oils, consider one of the Sedona Aromatherapie home study aromatherapy courses. Visit the courses home page to learn more!


  • Aromaweb website, Pink Pepper Essential Oil, accessed September 21, 2015

  • Eden Botanicals website, Peppercorn, Pink, accessed September 21, 2015

  • Falsetto, Sharon, 2014, Authentic Aromatherapy, US: Skyhorse Publishing

  • Fragrantica website, Pink Pepper, accessed September 21, 2015

  • Lawless, Julia, 1995, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, UK: Thorsons

  • Author is a UK-certified aromatherapist with a decade of training and practical experience in aromatherapy, published author and editor in aromatherapy, an approved education provider for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), an aromatherapy business owner, and Chief Editor for the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal.

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