One of the reasons Columbus sailed west in 1492, looking for the "Indies", was to find new sources of spices worth their weight in gold. Among these, pepper was called the "King of Spices" and was among the most valuable. Indeed, black pepper (Piper nigrum) is today cultivated in the Amazon, but it is only one of perhaps a thousand species in the pepper family (called Piperaceae) one of the most diverse groups of plants in the rainforest. A number of other species in the family are also grown for a wide range of medicinal uses (see Ethnobotany for other medicinal plants). Members of this family are low-growing shrubs, recognized by their shiny, oval-shaped leaves with four to ten lengthwise parallel veins and swollen nodes where the leaf meets the stem.