The species here is considered in its narrow sense, treating as distinct a number of species such as Capsicum baccatum and Capsicum frutescens that are considered by some authors to belong here[
Capsicum abyssinicum A.Rich.
Capsicum angulosum Mill.
Capsicum axi Vell.
Capsicum baccatum Buch.-Ham. ex Wall.
Capsicum baccatum Rodschied
Capsicum bauhinii Dunal
Capsicum caerulescens Besser
Capsicum cerasiforme Mill.
Capsicum cerasiforme Willd.
Capsicum ceratocarpum Fingerh.
Capsicum cereolum Bertol.
Capsicum comarim Vell.
Capsicum conicum G.Mey.
Capsicum conicum Lam.
Capsicum conoide Mill.
Capsicum conoides Roem. & Schult.
Capsicum conoideum Mill.
Capsicum cordiforme Mill.
Capsicum crispum Dunal
Capsicum cydoniforme Roem. & Schult.
Capsicum dulce Dunal
Capsicum fasciculatum Sturtev.
Capsicum fastigiatum Blume
Capsicum globiferum G.Mey.
Capsicum globosum Besser
Capsicum grossum L.
Capsicum indicum auct.
Capsicum longum DC.
Capsicum milleri Roem. & Schult.
Capsicum minimum Mill.
Capsicum odoratum Steud.
Capsicum odoriferum Vell.
Capsicum oliviforme Mill.
Capsicum ovatum DC.
Capsicum petenense Standl.
Capsicum pomiferum Mart. ex Steud.
Capsicum purpureum Roxb.
Capsicum purpureum Vahl ex Hornem.
Capsicum pyramidale Mill.
Capsicum quitense Willd. ex Roem. & Schult.
Capsicum silvestre Vell.
Capsicum sphaerium Willd.
Capsicum tetragonum Mill.
Capsicum tomatiforme Fingerh. ex Steud.
Capsicum torulosum Hornem.
Capsicum tournefortii Besser
Capsicum ustulatum Paxton
Common Name: Pepper
Just a few of the large range of varieties
Photograph by: Ton Rulkens
Capsicum annuum is a short-lived, evergreen perennial plant that is usually grown as an annual. It varies in height according to variety, but is generally about 1 metre tall.
This species is widely grown throughout the world, but especially in warm temperate to tropical climates, for its edible fruit - the sweet and chilli peppers. It also has various medicinal properties.
Pungent-fruited peppers may cause painful irritation when used in excess, or after accidental contact with the eyes[
Although no reports have been seen for this species, many plants in this family produce toxins in their leaves. The sap of the plant can cause the skin to blister[
Probably native of the Tropics, but the original habitat is obscure
Not known in the wild.
Plants grow well as perennials in lowland tropical regions and also at an elevation up to 2,000 metres[
]. They can be cultivated as an annual in the warm temperate and subtropical zones. They prefer a temperature in the range 21 - 25°c, not growing well if temperatures exceed 32°c[
]. Plants can tolerate an occasional light frost, but generally require constant warm weather if they are to perform well. An annual precipitation of 600 - 1,200mm is considered to be adequate[
]. Excessive rainfall can reduce flowering and fruit set, as well as encourage diseases[
Requires a very warm sunny position and a humus-rich, fertile, well-drained loam[
]. Prefers a light sandy soil that is slightly acid[
]. Prefers a pH in the range of 5.5 - 5.6[
], but is able to tolerate 4.3 to 8.3.
A first harvest of the fruits can be obtained about 2 months after sowing the seed, harvesting can then continue for 2 months or more[
]. Yields of 12 - 20 tonnes per hectare can be obtained[
There are many named varieties[
]. There are five basic forms of fruits, each form having various varieties. These forms are:-
Cerasiforme. These have small cherry-shaped pungent fruits.
Conioides. These fruits are cone-shaped and up to 5cm long. Many of them are grown as ornamentals, but some are also cultivated for food..
Fasciculatum. Also cone-shaped, but with pungent red fruits up to 7.5cm long.
Grossum. These are the sweet peppers with large bell-shaped fruits and thick flesh.
Longum. These are the cultivated hot cayenne and chilli peppers with long thin fruits up to 30cm long.
Most forms of this plant appear to be daylength neutral[
The pungency of peppers depends upon the presence of a single gene, cultivars that lack this gene are the sweet peppers[
]. A short-lived evergreen perennial in the tropics[
], though the plants are grown as annuals in temperate zones[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. Some varieties are very hot (the chilli and cayenne peppers) and are normally used as a pungent flavouring whilst milder varieties (the sweet peppers) have a very pleasant flavour with a slight sweetness and are often eaten raw in salads etc[
]. The dried fruits of chilli and cayenne peppers is ground into a powder and used as a pungent flavouring called paprika[
]. The powder from the dried ground fruit of some cultivars is added to food as a colouring[
]. The fruits range widely in size and shape, from a few centimetres long to more than 30cm[
Young leaves are said to be edible[
] but some caution is advised. They are steamed as a potherb or added to soups and stews[
]. The leaves contain about 4 - 6% protein[
Seed - dried, ground into a powder and used as a pepper[
Flowers - raw or cooked[
The fruit of the hot, pungent cultivars is antihaemorrhoidal when taken in small amounts, antirheumatic, antiseptic, diaphoretic, digestive, irritant, rubefacient, sialagogue and tonic[
]. It is taken internally in the treatment of the cold stage of fevers, debility in convalescence or old age, varicose veins, asthma and digestive problems[
]. Externally it is used in the treatment of sprains, unbroken chilblains, neuralgia, pleurisy etc[
]. It is an effective sea-sickness preventative[
Sweet pepper plants are good companions for basil and okra[
]. They should not be grown near apricot trees, however, because a fungus that the pepper is prone to can cause a lot of harm to the apricot tree[
Seed - sow late winter to early spring in a warm greenhouse[
]. The seed usually germinates in 3 - 4 weeks at 20°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots of reasonably rich soil and grow them on fast. If trying them outdoors, then plant them out after the last expected frosts and give them the protection of a cloche or frame at least until they are established and growing away well.