Alligator pepper (also known as mbongo spice or hepper pepper) is a West African spice. It is a close relative of grains of paradise. The plants that provide alligator pepper are herbaceous perennial flowering plants, native to swampy habitats along the West African coast.
Once the pod is opened and the seeds are revealed, the reason for the common English name of this spice becomes obvious as the seeds have a paper skin surrounding them and the bumps of the seeds in this skin are reminiscent of the back of an alligator. It is a common ingredient in West African cuisine, where it adds both spiciness and a spicy aroma to soups and stews.