Kava consists of sterile cultivars cloned from its wild ancestor, Piper wichmanii. Today it comprises hundreds of different cultivars grown across the Pacific.
First and foremost, Kava is a plant. Specifically, it is the name of the beverage made from the root of the plant Piper methysticum, a close relative of Piper nigrum or Black Pepper. The name Kava is given to this beverage by the people of Vanuatu, commonly believed to be the architects of this plant.