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Capsicum

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
KAP-sih-kum
Description

The genus of peppers, composed of species native across Central and South America, is in the Solanaceae (nightshade) family, which is the same as many other food plants such as tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes. Many cultivars of these species are grown as food, spice, and medicine. 

Peppers prefer full sun but grow well in any soil as long as it drains well. Although each species and cultivar differs in size and shape, the most iconic part of these plants is the fruit, most often bright red, hollow, and intensely spicy. This "heat" is due to the presence of capsaicin in the flesh and seeds, a trait that has been altered through breeding for various purposes. Some cultivars are sweet with no spice, and others have world record-breaking quantities of capsaicin within. Peppers tend to be tolerant to both drought and heat and resistant to damage from deer.

Among commonly cultivated species, the plants tend to be small enough to lend themselves toward container gardening. Some cultivars have ornamental value and can be planted as part of a decorative arrangement, but they are most commonly found growing in vegetable gardens.  

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: No significant problems.

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Edibles, Bulbs, and Houseplants" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
C. annuum, C. chinense, C. frutescens
Tags:
#annuals#edible plant#perennials#low maintenance#showy fruits#herbaceous perennials#red fruits#edible fruits#vegetable#annual vegetable#ornamental vegetable#ebh-vh
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
C. annuum, C. chinense, C. frutescens
Tags:
#annuals#edible plant#perennials#low maintenance#showy fruits#herbaceous perennials#red fruits#edible fruits#vegetable#annual vegetable#ornamental vegetable#ebh-vh
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Capsicum
    Family:
    Solanaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Parts of this plant have been used for thousands of years as food, spice, and medicine among people groups in the Americas.
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Tropical Americas, especially South America
    Wildlife Value:
    Birds are immune to the capsaicin in peppers and can safely eat the fruits with no ill effects. Therefore, these plants may attract birds.
    Edibility:
    Fruits used as a vegetable and spice. Different species and cultivars have different textures, heat levels, and cullinary uses.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Edible
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Perennial
    Vegetable
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Cream/Tan
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Orange
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Good Dried
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    A non-pulpy berry, often with large pockets of air inside containing many seeds. Fruits range in color, shape, and heat level depending on species and cultivar. The most common color is bright red due to the presence of carotenoid compounds. The seeds are round and flat, yellowish in color.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Small flowers, white to purple in color, most commonly with 5 parts. The flowers emerge in clusters of 1 to many and bloom in summer months.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Across the genus, the simple leaves are arranged alternately and most frequently ovate to lanceolate. Margins are entire and the surface is smooth and somewhat glossy. Size varies among species and cultivars.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Nodes may darken to a purple color.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Patio
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Edible Garden
    Design Feature:
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Heat
    Problems:
    Problem for Children