Capsicum (/ˈkæpsɪkəm/[3]), the pepper, is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family Solanaceae. Its species are native to the Americas, where they have been cultivated for thousands of years. Following the Columbian Exchange, it has become cultivated worldwide, and it has also become a key element in many cuisines. In addition to use as spices and food vegetables, Capsicum species have also been used as medicines and lachrymatory agents.

Red capsicum and cross section
Red bell pepper fruit and longitudinal section
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae
Subfamily: Solanoideae
Tribe: Capsiceae
Genus: Capsicum

See text[2]

Etymology and names

The generic name may come from Latin capsa, meaning 'box', presumably alluding to the pods; or from the Greek word κάπτω kapto, 'to gulp'.[4][5][6] The name "pepper" comes from the similarity of piquance (spiciness or "heat") of the flavor to that of black pepper, Piper nigrum, although there is no botanical relationship with it or with Sichuan pepper. The original term, chilli (now chile in Mexico) came from the Nahuatl word chīlli, denoting a larger Capsicum variety cultivated at least since 3000 BC, as evidenced by remains found in pottery from Puebla and Oaxaca.[7] Different varieties were cultivated in South America, where they are known as ajíes (singular ají), from the Quechua term for Capsicum.

The fruit (technically berries in the strict botanical sense) of Capsicum plants have a variety of names depending on place and type. The more piquant varieties are commonly called chili peppers, or simply chilis. The large, mild form is called bell pepper, or by color or both (green pepper, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, etc.) in North America, sweet pepper or simply pepper in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Malaysia [8] but typically called capsicum in New Zealand,[9] Australia, South Africa, Singapore, and India. Capsicum fruits of several varieties with commercial value are called by various European-language names in English, such as jalapeño, peperoncini, and peperoncito; many of these are usually sold pickled. Paprika (in English) refers to a powdered spice made of dried Capsicum of several sorts, though in Hungary and some other countries it is the name of the fruit as well. Both whole and powdered chili are frequent ingredients in dishes prepared throughout the world, and characteristic of several cuisine styles, including Mexican, Sichuan (Szechuan) Chinese, Korean, Cajun and Creole, along with most South Asian and derived (e.g. Jamaican) curries. The powdered form is a key ingredient in various commercially prepared foodstuffs, such as pepperoni (a sausage), and chili con carne (a stew), and hot sauces.

Growing conditions

Ideal growing conditions for peppers include a sunny position with warm, loamy soil, ideally 21 to 29 °C (70 to 84 °F), that is moist but not waterlogged.[10] Extremely moist soils can cause seedlings to "damp-off" and reduce germination.

The plants will tolerate (but do not prefer) temperatures down to 12 °C (54 °F) and they are sensitive to frost.[11][12] For flowering, Capsicum is a non-photoperiod-sensitive crop. The flowers can self-pollinate. However, at extremely high temperature, 33 to 38 °C (91 to 100 °F), pollen loses viability, and flowers are much less likely to pollinate successfully.

Species and varieties

Cachi 02
Red peppers in Cachi (Argentina) air-drying before being processed into powder
Arrangement of jalapeño, banana, cayenne, chili, and habanero peppers
An arrangement of chilis, including jalapeno, banana, cayenne, and habanero peppers.

Capsicum consists of 20–27 species,[13] five of which are domesticated: C. annuum, C. baccatum, C. chinense, C. frutescens, and C. pubescens.[14] Phylogenetic relationships between species have been investigated using biogeographical,[15] morphological,[16] chemosystematic,[17] hybridization,[18] and genetic[13] data. Fruits of Capsicum can vary tremendously in color, shape, and size both between and within species, which has led to confusion over the relationships among taxa.[19] Chemosystematic studies helped distinguish the difference between varieties and species. For example, C. baccatum var. baccatum had the same flavonoids as C. baccatum var. pendulum, which led researchers to believe the two groups belonged to the same species.[17]

Many varieties of the same species can be used in many different ways; for example, C. annuum includes the "bell pepper" variety, which is sold in both its immature green state and its red, yellow, or orange ripe state. This same species has other varieties, as well, such as the Anaheim chiles often used for stuffing, the dried ancho (before being dried it is referred to as a poblano) chile used to make chili powder, the mild-to-hot, ripe jalapeno used to make smoked jalapeno, known as chipotle.

Peru is thought to be the country with the highest cultivated Capsicum diversity since varieties of all five domesticates are commonly sold in markets in contrast to other countries. Bolivia is considered to be the country where the largest diversity of wild Capsicum peppers are consumed. Bolivian consumers distinguish two basic forms: ulupicas, species with small round fruits including C. eximium, C. cardenasii, C. eshbaughii, and C. caballeroi landraces; and arivivis, with small elongated fruits including C. baccatum var. baccatum and C. chacoense varieties.[20]

Most of the capsaicin in a pungent (hot) pepper is concentrated in blisters on the epidermis of the interior ribs (septa) that divide the chambers, or locules, of the fruit to which the seeds are attached.[21] A study on capsaicin production in fruits of C. chinense showed that capsaicinoids are produced only in the epidermal cells of the interlocular septa of pungent fruits, that blister formation only occurs as a result of capsaicinoid accumulation, and that pungency and blister formation are controlled by a single locus, Pun1, for which there exist at least two recessive alleles that result in non-pungency of C. chinense fruits.[22]

The amount of capsaicin in hot peppers varies significantly among varieties, and is measured in Scoville heat units (SHU). The world's current hottest known pepper as rated in SHU is the 'Carolina Reaper,' which had been measured at over 2,200,000 SHU.

Species list


  • Capsicum annuum L.
  • Capsicum baccatum L.
  • Capsicum buforum Hunz.
  • Capsicum campylopodium Sendtn.
  • Capsicum cardenasii Heiser & P. G. Sm.
  • Capsicum ceratocalyx M.Nee
  • Capsicum chacoense Hunz.
  • Capsicum chinense Jacq.
  • Capsicum coccineum (Rusby) Hunz.
  • Capsicum cornutum (Hiern) Hunz.
  • Capsicum dimorphum (Miers) Kuntze
  • Capsicum dusenii Bitter
  • Capsicum eximium Hunz.
  • Capsicum flexuosum Sendtn.
  • Capsicum friburgense Bianch. & Barboza
  • Capsicum frutescens L.
  • Capsicum galapagoense Hunz.
  • Capsicum geminifolium (Dammer) Hunz.
  • Capsicum havanense Kunth
  • Capsicum hookerianum (Miers) Kuntze
  • Capsicum hunzikerianum Barboza & Bianch.
  • Capsicum lanceolatum (Greenm.) C.V.Morton & Standl.
  • Capsicum leptopodum (Dunal) Kuntze
  • Capsicum lycianthoides Bitter
  • Capsicum minutiflorum (Rusby) Hunz.
  • Capsicum mirabile Mart. ex Sendtn.
  • Capsicum mositicum Toledo
  • Capsicum parvifolium Sendtn.
  • Capsicum pereirae Barboza & Bianch.
  • Capsicum pubescens Ruiz & Pav.
  • Capsicum ramosissimum Witasek
  • Capsicum recurvatum Witasek
  • Capsicum rhomboideum (Dunal) Kuntze
  • Capsicum schottianum Sendtn.
  • Capsicum scolnikianum Hunz.
  • Capsicum spina-alba (Dunal) Kuntze
  • Capsicum stramoniifolium (Kunth) Standl.
  • Capsicum tovarii Eshbaugh et al.
  • Capsicum villosum Sendtn.

Formerly placed here

  • Tubocapsicum anomalum (Franch. & Sav.) Makino (as C. anomalum Franch. & Sav.)
  • Vassobia fasciculata (Miers) Hunz. (as C. grandiflorum Kuntze)
  • Witheringia stramoniifolia Kunth (as C. stramoniifolium (Kunth) Kuntze)[2]


Most Capsicum species are 2n=2x=24. A few of the non-domesticated species are 2n=2x=32.[25] All are diploid. The Capsicum annuum and Capsicum chinense genomes were completed in 2014. The Capsicum annuum genome is approximately 3.48 Gb, making it larger than the human genome. Over 75% of the pepper genome is composed of transposable elements, mostly Gypsy elements, distributed widely throughout the genome. The distribution of transposable elements is inversely correlated with gene density. Pepper is predicted to have 34,903 genes, approximately the same number as both tomato and potato, two related species within the Solanaceae family.[26]


Many types of peppers have been bred for heat, size, and yield. Along with selection of specific fruit traits such as flavor and color, specific pest, disease and abiotic stress resistances are continually being selected. Breeding occurs in several environments dependent on the use of the final variety including but not limited to: conventional, organic, hydroponic, green house and shade house production environments.

Several breeding programs are being conducted by corporations and universities. In the United States, New Mexico State University has released several varieties in the last few years.[27] Cornell University has worked to develop regionally adapted varieties that work better in cooler, damper climates. Other universities such as UC Davis, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Oregon State University have smaller breeding programs. Many vegetable seed companies breed different types of peppers as well.


Pepper production map FAOSTAT 2014
Fresh chili pepper production by country in 2013.

In 2013, global production of both green and dried chili pepper was 34.6 million tonnes, with 47% of output coming from China alone.[28] India was the top producer of dry peppers, producing 1.4 million tonnes.

Worldwide pepper production

Top countries in fresh chili pepper production, 2013[28]
Country Production
(million tonnes)
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg China
Mexican flag.png Mexico
Turkey Flag 2 per 3.svg Turkey
Indonesia flag.jpg Indonesia
Spain flag 300.png Spain
Ambox globe.svg World


Peppers are highly nutritious. They have more Vitamin C than an orange, and a typical bell pepper contains more than 100% of the daily recommended value for Vitamin C. They also have relatively high amounts of Vitamin B6. Fresh fruit is 94% water. Dried pepper fruit has a much different nutritional value due to the dehydration and concentration of vitamins and minerals.

Pepper, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 20 kcal
Carbohydrates 4.64 g
Sugars 2.40 g
Dietary fiber 1.7 g
Fat 0.17 g
Protein 0.86 g
Vitamin C (>100%) 80.4 mg
Thiamine (B1) (5%) 0.057 mg
Riboflavin (B2) (2%) 0.028 mg
Niacin (B3) (3%) 0.480 mg
Vitamin B6 (16%) 0.224 mg
Folate (B9) (3%) 10 μg
Vitamin A (2%) 18 μg
Vitamin E (2%) 0.37 mg
Vitamin K (7%) 7.4μg
Calcium (1%) 10 mg
Iron (3%) 0.34 mg
Magnesium (3%) 10 mg
Phosphorus (3%) 20 mg
Potassium (3%) 175 mg
Sodium (3%) 3 mg
Zinc (2%) 0.13 mg

Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.

Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Capsaicin in capsicum

The fruit of most species of Capsicum contains capsaicin (methyl-n-vanillyl nonenamide), a lipophilic chemical that can produce a strong burning sensation (pungency or spiciness) in the mouth of the unaccustomed eater. Most mammals find this unpleasant, whereas birds are unaffected.[29][30] The secretion of capsaicin protects the fruit from consumption by insects[31] and mammals, while the bright colors attract birds that will disperse the seeds.

Capsaicin is present in large quantities in the placental tissue (which holds the seeds), the internal membranes, and to a lesser extent, the other fleshy parts of the fruits of plants in this genus. The seeds themselves do not produce any capsaicin, although the highest concentration of capsaicin can be found in the white pith around the seeds.[32]

The amount of capsaicin in the fruit is highly variable and dependent on genetics and environment, giving almost all types of Capsicum varied amounts of perceived heat. The most recognizable Capsicum without capsaicin is the bell pepper,[33] a cultivar of Capsicum annuum, which has a zero rating on the Scoville scale. The lack of capsaicin in bell peppers is due to a recessive gene that eliminates capsaicin and, consequently, the "hot" taste usually associated with the rest of the Capsicum family.[34] There are also other peppers without capsaicin, mostly within the Capsicum annuum species, such as the cultivars Giant Marconi,[35] Yummy Sweets,[36] Jimmy Nardello,[37] and Italian Frying peppers[38](also known as the Cubanelle).

Chili peppers are of great importance in Native American medicine, and capsaicin is used in modern medicine—mainly in topical medications—as a circulatory stimulant and analgesic. In more recent times, an aerosol extract of capsaicin, usually known as capsicum or pepper spray, has become used by law enforcement as a nonlethal means of incapacitating a person, and in a more widely dispersed form for riot control, or by individuals for personal defense. Pepper in vegetable oils, or as an horticultural product[39] can be used in gardening as a natural insecticide.

Although black pepper causes a similar burning sensation, it is caused by a different substance—piperine.


Capsicum fruits and peppers can be eaten raw or cooked. Those used in cooking are generally varieties of the C. annuum and C. frutescens species, though a few others are used, as well. They are suitable for stuffing with fillings such as cheese, meat, or rice.

They are also frequently used both chopped and raw in salads, or cooked in stir-fries or other mixed dishes. They can be sliced into strips and fried, roasted whole or in pieces, or chopped and incorporated into salsas or other sauces, of which they are often a main ingredient.

They can be preserved in the form of a jam,[40] or by drying, pickling, or freezing. Dried peppers may be reconstituted whole, or processed into flakes or powders. Pickled or marinated peppers are frequently added to sandwiches or salads. Frozen peppers are used in stews, soups, and salsas. Extracts can be made and incorporated into hot sauces.

The Spanish conquistadores soon became aware of their culinary properties, and brought them back to Europe, together with cocoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tobacco, maize, beans, and turkeys. They also brought it to the Spanish Philippines colonies, whence it spread to Asia. The Portuguese brought them to their African and Asiatic possessions such as India.

All the varieties were appreciated, but the hot ones are particularly appreciated because they can enliven otherwise monotonous diets. This was of some importance during dietary restrictions for religious reasons, such as Lent in Christian countries.

Spanish cuisine soon benefited from the discovery of chiles in the New World, and it would become very difficult to untangle Spanish cooking from chiles. Ground chiles, or paprika, hot or otherwise, are a key ingredient in chorizo, which is then called picante (if hot chile is added) or dulce (if otherwise). Paprika is also an important ingredient in rice dishes, and plays a definitive role in squid Galician style (polbo á feira). Chopped chiles are used in fish or lamb dishes such as ajoarriero or chilindrón. Pisto is a vegetarian stew with chilies and zucchini as main ingredients. They can also be added, finely chopped, to gazpacho as a garnish. In some regions, bacon is salted and dusted in paprika for preservation. Cheese can also be rubbed with paprika to lend it flavour and colour. Dried round chiles called ñoras are used for arroz a banda.

According to Richard Pankhurst, C. frutescens (known as barbaré) was so important to the national cuisine of Ethiopia, at least as early as the 19th century, "that it was cultivated extensively in the warmer areas wherever the soil was suitable." Although it was grown in every province, barbaré was especially extensive in Yejju, "which supplied much of Showa, as well as other neighbouring provinces." He mentions the upper Golima River valley as being almost entirely devoted to the cultivation of this plant, where it was harvested year-round.[41]

In 2005, a poll of 2,000 people revealed the pepper to be Britain's fourth-favourite culinary vegetable.[42]

In Hungary, sweet yellow peppers – along with tomatoes – are the main ingredient of lecsó.

In Bulgaria, South Serbia, and Macedonia, peppers are very popular, too. They can be eaten in salads, like shopska salata; fried and then covered with a dip of tomato paste, onions, garlic, and parsley; or stuffed with a variety of products, such as minced meat and rice, beans, or cottage cheese and eggs. Peppers are also the main ingredient in the traditional tomato and pepper dip lyutenitsa and ajvar. They are in the base of different kinds of pickled vegetables dishes, turshiya.

Peppers are also used widely in Italian cuisine, and the hot species are used all around the southern part of Italy as a common spice (sometimes served with olive oil). Capsicum peppers are used in many dishes; they can be cooked by themselves in a variety of ways (roasted, fried, deep-fried) and are a fundamental ingredient for some delicatessen specialities, such as nduja.

Capsicums are also used extensively in Sri Lankan cuisine as side dishes.[43]

The Maya and Aztec people of Mesoamerica used Capsicum fruit in cocoa drinks as a flavouring.[44]

In New Mexico, there is a capsicum annuum cultivar group called the New Mexico chile pepper which a mainstay of the state's New Mexican cuisine.


Only Capsicum frutescens L. and Capsicum annuum L. are Generally recognized as safe.[45][46]

Synonyms and common names

Capsicum annuum
Capsicum annuum cultivars

The name given to the Capsicum fruits varies between English-speaking countries.

In Australia, New Zealand, and India, heatless varieties are called "capsicums", while hot ones are called "chilli"/"chillies" (double L). Pepperoncini are also known as "sweet capsicum". The term "bell peppers" is almost never used, although C. annuum and other varieties which have a bell shape and are fairly hot, are often called "bell chillies".

In Ireland and the United Kingdom, the heatless varieties are commonly known simply as "peppers" (or more specifically "green peppers", "red peppers", etc.), while the hot ones are "chilli"/"chillies" (double L) or "chilli peppers".

In the United States and Canada, the common heatless varieties are referred to as "bell peppers", "sweet peppers", "red/green/etc. peppers", or simply "peppers", additionally in Indiana they may be referred to as "mangoes/mango peppers", while the hot varieties are collectively called "chile"/"chiles", "chili"/"chilies", or "chili"/"chile peppers" (one L only), "hot peppers", or named as a specific variety (e.g., banana pepper).

In Polish and in Hungarian, the term papryka and paprika (respectively) is used for all kinds of capsicums (the sweet vegetable, and the hot spicy), as well as for dried and ground spice made from them (named paprika in both U.S. English and Commonwealth English). Also, fruit and spice can be attributed as papryka ostra (hot pepper) or papryka słodka (sweet pepper). In Polish, the term pieprz (pepper) instead means only grains or ground black pepper (incl. the green, white, and red forms), but not capsicum. Sometimes, the hot capsicum spice is also called chilli. Similarly, Hungarian uses the word bors for the black pepper.

In Czech and Slovak, the term paprika is too used for all kinds of capsicums. For black pepper, Czech uses pepř, while Slovak uses čierne korenie (literally, black spice) or, dialectally, piepor.[47]

In Italy and the Italian- and German-speaking parts of Switzerland, the sweet varieties are called peperone and the hot varieties peperoncino (literally "small pepper"). In Germany, the heatless varieties as well as the spice are called Paprika and the hot types are primarily called Peperoni or Chili while in Austria, Pfefferoni is more common for these; in Dutch, this word is also used exclusively for bell peppers, whereas chilli is reserved for powders, and hot pepper variants are referred to as Spaanse pepers (Spanish peppers). In Switzerland, though, the condiment powder made from capsicum is called Paprika (German language regions) and paprica (French and Italian language region). In French, capsicum is called poivron for sweet varieties and piment for hot ones.

Spanish-speaking countries use many different names for the varieties and preparations. In Mexico, the term chile is used for "hot peppers", while the heatless varieties are called pimiento (the masculine form of the word for pepper, which is pimienta). Several other countries, such as Chile, whose name is unrelated, Perú, Puerto Rico, and Argentina, use ají. In Spain, heatless varieties are called pimiento and hot varieties guindilla. In Argentina and Spain, the variety C. chacoense is commonly known as "putaparió", a slang expression equivalent to "damn it", probably due to its extra-hot flavour.

In Indian English, the word "capsicum" is used exclusively for Capsicum annuum. All other varieties of hot capsicum are called chilli. In northern India and Pakistan, C. annuum is also commonly called shimla mirch in the local language and as "Kodai Mozhagai" in Tamil which roughly translates to "umbrella chilli" due to its appearance. Shimla, incidentally, is a popular hill-station in India (and mirch means chilli in local languages).

In Japanese, tōgarashi (唐辛子, トウガラシ "Chinese mustard") refers to hot chili peppers, and particularly a spicy powder made from them which is used as a condiment, while bell peppers are called pīman (ピーマン, from the French piment or the Spanish pimiento).

Pictures of common cultivars

Capsicum annuum

C. annuum cultivars


A variety of coloured Capsicum

Pickled friggitelli

Peperoncini (C. annuum)


Peperoncini in kebab restaurant

Large Cayenne

Cayenne pepper (C. annuum)

Compact orange pepper plants

Compact plant of orange Capsicum

Habanero chile - fruits (aka)

Habanero chili (C. chinense Jacquin)- plant with flower and fruit


Scotch bonnet (C. chinense) in a Caribbean market

Thai peppers

Thai peppers (C. annuum)

Green chillies

Fresh Indian green chillies in Bangalore market

African red devil peppers

Piri piri (C. frutescens 'African Devil')

Naga Jolokia Peppers

Naga jolokia pepper (bhut jolokia) (C. chinense x C. frutescens)

Capsicum Annum Flower

C. annuum flower

Capsicum Annum Flower Closeup

C. annum flower close up


Green, yellow, and red peppers

Makro Bunga Cabai

The flower of red hot bangi pepper, Malaysia

Capsicum Malaysia

A small but very hot Capsicum in Malaysia

Peperoni Cruschi

Dried and crunchy Capsicum from Basilicata

মরিচ বা লংকা

Capsicum in Bangladesh

Naga jolokia chili

Naga Morich in Bangladesh

See also


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  2. ^ a b "Species records of Capsicum". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2010-06-23.
  3. ^ Wells, John C. (2008), Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.), Longman, p. 123, ISBN 9781405881180
  4. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 1st edition, 1888, [ s.v.
  5. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary, s.v.
  6. ^ Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. 1, A-C. CRC Press. p. 431. ISBN 978-0-8493-2675-2.
  7. ^ Gil-Jurado, A. T., Il senso del chile e del piccante: dalla traduzione culturale alla rappresentazione visiva in (G. Manetti, ed.), Semiofood: Communication and Culture of Meal, Centro Scientifico Editore, Torino, Italy, 2006:34–58
  8. ^, s.v.
  9. ^ Latham, Elizabeth (8 February 2013). "Capsicums at your table". Nelson Mail. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  10. ^ "Growing Peppers: The Important Facts". Archived from the original on 27 January 2013. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  11. ^ "How to grow chilli pepper / RHS Gardening".
  12. ^ "Peppers and chillies/RHS Gardening".
  13. ^ a b Walsh, B.M.; Hoot, S.B. (2001). "Phylogenetic Relationships of Capsicum (Solanaceae) Using DNA Sequences from Two Noncoding Regions: The Chloroplast atpB-rbcL Spacer Region and Nuclear waxy Introns". International Journal of Plant Sciences. 162 (6): 1409–1418. doi:10.1086/323273. Archived from the original (– Scholar search) on 12 December 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2007.
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  15. ^ Tewksbury, J.J.; Manchego, C.; Haak, D.C.; Levey, D.J. (2006). "Where did the Chili Get its Spice? Biogeography of Capsaicinoid Production in Ancestral Wild Chili Species" (PDF). Journal of Chemical Ecology. 32 (3): 547–564. doi:10.1007/s10886-005-9017-4. PMID 16572297. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
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  21. ^ Zamski, E.; Shoham, O.; Palevitch, D.; Levy, A. (1987). "Ultrastructure of Capsaicinoid-Secreting Cells in Pungent and Nonpungent Red Pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) Cultivars". Botanical Gazette. 148 (1): 1–6. doi:10.1086/337620. JSTOR 2995376.
  22. ^ Stewart Jr, C.; Mazourek, M.; Stellari, G.M.; O'Connell, M.; Jahn, M. (2007). "Genetic control of pungency in C. chinense via the Pun1 locus". Journal of Experimental Botany. 58 (5): 979–91. doi:10.1093/jxb/erl243. PMID 17339653.
  23. ^ "The Plant List".
  24. ^ "Tropicos".
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  26. ^ Kim, Seungill; Park, Minkyu; Yeom, Seon-In; Kim, Yong-Min; Lee, Je Min; Lee, Hyun-Ah; Seo, Eunyoung; Choi, Jaeyoung; Cheong, Kyeongchae (2014-03-01). "Genome sequence of the hot pepper provides insights into the evolution of pungency in Capsicum species". Nature Genetics. 46 (3): 270–278. doi:10.1038/ng.2877. ISSN 1061-4036. PMID 24441736.
  27. ^ Institute, The Chile Pepper. "NMSU Cultivars - The Chile Pepper Institute". Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  28. ^ a b "FAOSTAT". Retrieved 2016-04-07.
  29. ^ Mason, J. R.; N. J. Bean; P. S. Shah; L. Clark Shah (December 1991). "Taxon-specific differences in responsiveness to capsaicin and several analogues: Correlates between chemical structure and behavioral aversiveness". Journal of Chemical Ecology. 17 (12): 2539–2551. doi:10.1007/BF00994601. PMID 24258646.
  30. ^ Norman, D. M.; J. R. Mason; L. Clark (1992). "Capsaicin effects on consumption of food by Cedar Waxwings and House Finches" (PDF). The Wilson Journal of Ornithology. 104 (3): 549–551. JSTOR 4163197.
  31. ^ "Active Ingredient Fact Sheets" (PDF).
  32. ^ New Mexico State University – College of Agriculture and Home Economics (2005). "Chile Information – Frequently Asked Questions". Archived from the original on 4 May 2007. Retrieved 17 May 2007.
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  34. ^ "The World's Healthies Foods". Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  35. ^ "Giant Marconi Pepper: Smoky Sweet Flavor, Large Fruit".
  36. ^
  37. ^ "- Jimmy Nardello's Pepper".
  38. ^ "Italian Frying peppers - Produce Express of Sacramento, California".
  39. ^ "Capsaicin as an Insecticide".
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External links

Bell pepper

The bell pepper (also known as sweet pepper, pepper or capsicum ) is a cultivar group of the species Capsicum annuum. Cultivars of the plant produce fruits in different colours, including red, yellow, orange, green, white, and purple. Bell peppers are sometimes grouped with less pungent pepper varieties as "sweet peppers".

Peppers are native to Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. Pepper seeds were imported to Spain in 1493, and from there, spread to Europe and Asia. The mild bell pepper cultivar was developed in 1920s, in Szeged, Hungary.Preferred growing conditions for bell peppers include warm, moist soil in a temperate range of 21 to 29 °C (70 to 84 °F).

Bhut jolokia

The Bhut jolokia (IPA: [ˈbʱʊt.zɔˌlɔkiˌja]), also known as ghost pepper, ghost chili and ghost jolokia, is an interspecific hybrid chili pepper cultivated in the Northeast Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. It is a hybrid of Capsicum chinense and Capsicum frutescens and is closely related to the Naga Morich of Nagaland and Bangladesh.In 2007, Guinness World Records certified that the ghost pepper was the world's hottest chili pepper, 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. The ghost chili is rated at more than 1 million Scoville heat units (SHUs). However, the ghost chili was shortly superseded by the Infinity chili in 2011, followed by the Naga Viper, the Trinidad moruga scorpion in 2012 and the Carolina Reaper on August 7, 2013.

Bird's eye chili

Bird's eye chili, bird eye chili, bird's chili, piri piri or Thai chili is a chili pepper, a variety from the species Capsicum annuum, commonly found in Ethiopia and across Southeast Asia. It is often confused with a similar-looking chili derived from the species Capsicum frutescens, the cultivar "siling labuyo". Capsicum frutescens fruits are generally smaller and characteristically point to the sky. It is used extensively in Thai, Malaysian, Singaporean, Lao, Khmer, Indonesian, and Vietnamese cuisines.


Capsaicin ( (INN); 8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) is an active component of chili peppers, which are plants belonging to the genus Capsicum. It is an irritant for mammals, including humans, and produces a sensation of burning in any tissue with which it comes into contact. Capsaicin and several related compounds are called capsaicinoids and are produced as secondary metabolites by chili peppers, probably as deterrents against certain mammals and fungi. Pure capsaicin is a hydrophobic, colorless, highly pungent, crystalline to waxy solid compound.

Capsicum annuum

Capsicum annuum is a species of the plant genus Capsicum (peppers) native to southern North America and northern South America. This species is the most common and extensively cultivated of the five domesticated capsicums. The species encompasses a wide variety of shapes and sizes of peppers, both mild and hot, such as bell peppers, jalapeños, New Mexico chile, and cayenne peppers. Cultivars descended from the wild American bird pepper are still found in warmer regions of the Americas. In the past, some woody forms of this species have been called C. frutescens, but the features that were used to distinguish those forms appear in many populations of C. annuum and are not consistently recognizable features in C. frutescens species. Moreover, crosses between C. annuum and C. frutescens aren't likely because seeds obtained from pollination between those two species (if the embryo survives) will not germinate.

Capsicum baccatum

Capsicum baccatum is a member of the genus Capsicum, and is one of the five domesticated pepper species. The fruit tends to be very pungent, and are 30,000 to 50,000 on the Scoville Heat Unit scale.

Capsicum chinense

Capsicum chinense, commonly known as the "bonnet pepper" is a species of chili pepper native to the Americas. C. chinense varieties are well known for their unique flavors and many have exceptional heat. The hottest peppers in the world are members of this species, with Scoville Heat Unit scores of over 1.5 million. Some taxonomists consider them to be part of the species C. annuum, and they are a member of the C. annuum complex. C. annuum and C. chinense pepper plants can generally be identified by the number of flowers or fruit per node, however—one for C. annuum and two to five for C. chinense, though this method is not always correct. The two species can also hybridize and generate inter-specific hybrids. It is believed that C. frutescens is the ancestor to the C. chinense species.

Capsicum frutescens

Capsicum frutescens is a species of chili pepper that is sometimes considered to be part of the species Capsicum annuum. Pepper cultivars of C. frutescens can be annual or short-lived perennial plants. Flowers are white with a greenish white or greenish yellow corolla, and are either insect- or self-pollinated. The plants' berries typically grow erect; ellipsoid-conical to lanceoloid shaped. They are usually very small and pungent, growing 10–20 millimetres (0.39–0.79 in) long and 3–7 millimetres (0.12–0.28 in) in diameter. Fruit typically grows a pale yellow and matures to a bright red, but can also be other colors. C. frutescens has a smaller variety of shapes compared to other Capsicum species, likely because of the lack of human selection. More recently, however, C. frutescens has been bred to produce ornamental strains, because of its large quantities of erect peppers growing in colorful ripening patterns.

Carolina Reaper

The Carolina Reaper, originally named the HP22B, is a cultivar of the Capsicum chinense plant. The pepper is red and gnarled, with a small pointed tail. In 2013, Guinness World Records declared it the hottest chili pepper in the world, surpassing the previous record holder, the Trinidad Scorpion "Butch T". Other varieties have been claimed to be spicier, but are not confirmed by Guinness.

Cayenne pepper

The cayenne pepper is a type of Capsicum annuum. It is usually a moderately hot chili pepper used to flavor dishes. Cayenne peppers are a group of tapering, 10 to 25 cm long, generally skinny, mostly red-colored peppers, often with a curved tip and somewhat rippled skin, which hang from the bush as opposed to growing upright. Most varieties are generally rated at 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville units.The fruits are generally dried and ground to make the powdered spice of the same name, although cayenne powder may be a blend of different types of peppers, quite often not containing cayenne peppers, and may or may not contain the seeds.Cayenne is used in cooking spicy dishes either as a powder or in its whole form. It is also used as a herbal supplement.

Chili pepper

The chili pepper (also chile, chile pepper, chilli pepper, or chilli) from Nahuatl chīlli (Nahuatl pronunciation: [ˈt͡ʃiːli] (listen)) is the fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum which are members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Chili peppers are widely used in many cuisines as a spice to add heat to dishes. The substances that give chili peppers their intensity when ingested or applied topically are capsaicin and related compounds known as capsaicinoids.

Chili peppers originated in Mexico. After the Columbian Exchange, many cultivars of chili pepper spread across the world, used for both food and traditional medicine.

Cultivars grown in North America and Europe are believed to all derive from Capsicum annuum, and have white, yellow, red or purple to black fruits. In 2016, world production of raw green chili peppers was 34.5 million tonnes, with China producing half of the world total.


The habanero (; Spanish: [aβaˈneɾo] (listen)) is a hot variety of chili pepper. Unripe habaneros are green, and they color as they mature. The most common color variants are orange and red, but the fruit may also be white, brown, yellow, green, or purple. Typically, a ripe habanero is 2–6 cm (0.8–2.4 in) long. Habanero chilis are very hot, rated 100,000–350,000 on the Scoville scale. The habanero's heat, flavor and floral aroma make it a popular ingredient in hot sauces and other spicy foods.


The jalapeño (; Spanish: [xalaˈpeɲo] (listen)) is a medium-sized chili pepper pod type cultivar of the species Capsicum annuum. A mature jalapeño chili is 5–10 cm (2–4 in) long and hangs down with a round, firm, smooth flesh of 25–38 mm (1.0–1.5 in) wide. It can have a range of pungency, with Scoville heat units of 3,500 to 8,000. Commonly picked and consumed while still green, it is occasionally allowed to fully ripen and turn red, orange, or yellow. It is wider and generally milder than the similar Serrano pepper. The Chile Pepper Institute is known for developing colored variations.

List of Capsicum cultivars

This is a list of Capsicum cultivars belonging to the five major species of cultivated peppers (genus Capsicum): C. annuum, C. chinense, C. baccatum, C. frutescens, and C. pubescens. Due to the large and changing number of cultivars, and the variation of cultivar namings in different regions, this list only gives a few examples of the estimated 50,000 pepper varieties that exist.

Pepper spray

Pepper spray (also known as capsicum spray) is a lachrymatory agent (a chemical compound that irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain, and temporary blindness) used in policing, riot control, crowd control, and self-defense, including defense against dogs and bears. Its inflammatory effects cause the eyes to close, taking away vision. This temporary blindness allows officers to more easily restrain subjects and permits people in danger to use pepper spray in self-defense for an opportunity to escape. It also causes temporary discomfort and burning of the lungs which causes shortness of breath. Although considered a less-than-lethal agent, it has been deadly in rare cases, and concerns have been raised about a number of deaths where being pepper sprayed may have been a contributing factor.

The active ingredient in pepper spray is capsaicin, which is a chemical derived from the fruit of plants in the genus Capsicum, including chilis. Extraction of oleoresin capsicum (OC) from peppers requires capsicum to be finely ground, from which capsaicin is then extracted using an organic solvent such as ethanol. The solvent is then evaporated, and the remaining waxlike resin is the oleoresin capsaicin.

An emulsifier such as propylene glycol is used to suspend OC in water, and pressurized to make it aerosol in pepper spray. High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is used to measure the amount of capsaicin and major capsaicinoids within pepper sprays.

Determining the strength of different manufacturers of pepper sprays can be confusing and difficult. Statements a company makes about their product strength are not regulated. A method using the capsaicin and related capsaicinoids (CRC) content of the product is unreliable as well, because there are six different types of capsaicinoids, causing different levels of irritation. Manufacturers do not state which particular type of capsaicinoids are used. Personal pepper sprays can range from a low of 0.18% to a high of 3%. Most law enforcement pepper sprays use between 1.3% and 2%. The federal government of the United States has determined that bear attack deterrent sprays must contain at least 1.0% and not more than 2% CRC. CRC does not measure the amount of OC within the formulation. Instead, CRC is the pain-producing component of the OC that produces the burning sensation.

The federal government of the United States makes no mention of Scoville heat units (SHU) or OC in their requirements, only CRC (only for bear attack deterrent sprays). But, there are countries (Italy, Portugal and Spain - see below, under "Legality") and a few states within the US that do mention OC limitations. Some manufacturers may show a very high percentage of OC and, although OC is the active ingredient within the formulation, it does not indicate pepper spray strength. High OC percentage also indicates that a spray has more oil content; which, can possibly use lower grade pepper oils (but, more of it), or lower grade capsaicinoids (within the major CRCs) and also has less ability to soak and penetrate skin than a formula with a less, but higher-quality, pepper oil, because oil has hydrophobic properties.

The OC percentage measures only the amount of chili oil extract contained in the defense spray, not the strength, pungency or effectiveness of the product. Other companies may show a high SHU. The SHU is a measurement of the base resin compound and not what comes out in the aerosol. The rated irritant effect of the resin may be diluted depending on how much of it is put in the can.


A pimiento (Spanish pronunciation: [piˈmjento]), pimento, or cherry pepper is a variety of large, red, heart-shaped chili pepper (Capsicum annuum) that measures 3 to 4 in (7 to 10 cm) long and 2 to 3 in (5 to 7 cm) wide (medium, elongate).

The flesh of the pimiento is sweet, succulent, and more aromatic than that of the red bell pepper. Some varieties of the pimiento type are hot, including the Floral Gem and Santa Fe Grande varieties. The fruits are typically used fresh or pickled. The pimiento has one of the lowest Scoville scale ratings of any chili pepper.

Piri piri

Piri piri ( PIRR-ee-PIRR-ee, often hyphenated or as one word, and with variant spellings peri peri or pili pili (also called bird's eye chili)) is a cultivar of Capsicum frutescens, a chili pepper that grows both wild and as a crop.It is a small member of the genus Capsicum. The cultivar was developed from the malagueta pepper (originally from the Caribbean) in southeastern Africa and was spread by the Portuguese to their Indian territories of Gujarat and Goa.

Siling labuyo

Siling labuyo is a small chili pepper cultivar native to the Philippines. It belongs to the species Capsicum frutescens and are characterized by triangular fruits which grow pointing upwards. The fruits and leaves are used in traditional Philippine Cuisine. The fruit is very hot, ranking at 80,000 to 100,000 SHUs in the Scoville Scale.The cultivar name is Tagalog, and literally translates to "wild chili." It is also known simply as labuyo or labuyo chili. It is also sometimes known as Filipino bird's eye, to differentiate it from the Thai bird's eye chili. Both are commonly confused with each other in the Philippines, though they are cultivars of two different species.Siling labuyo is one of two common kinds of native chili found in the Philippines, the other being siling haba. Unlike siling haba, it belongs to the species Capsicum frutescens.Siling labuyo is listed in the Ark of Taste international catalogue of endangered heritage foods of the Philippines by the Slow Food movement.

Stuffed peppers

Stuffed peppers is a dish that exists in different names and forms around the world. It consists of hollowed or halved peppers (typically bell peppers), filled with any of a variety of fillings, often including meat, vegetables, cheese, rice, or sauce. They are usually assembled by filling the cavities of the peppers and then cooking.

C. annuum var. annuum
C. annuum var. glabriusculum
C. chinense
C. frutescens
C. baccatum
C. pubescens
Culinary herbs and spices

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