Capsicum annuum
Capsicum annuum - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-027.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Capsicum
C. annuum
Binomial name
Capsicum annuum
Varieties and Groups
  • Capsicum abyssinicum A.Rich.
  • Capsicum angulosum Mill.
  • Capsicum axi Vell.
  • Capsicum bauhinii Dunal
  • Capsicum caerulescens Besser
  • Capsicum cerasiforme Mill.
  • Capsicum ceratocarpum Fingerh.
  • Capsicum cereolum Bertol.
  • Capsicum comarim Vell.
  • 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 frutescens L.
  • 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 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

Capsicum annuum is a species of the plant genus Capsicum native to southern North America, the Caribbean, and northern South America.[2][5] 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.[6] 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.[7]


Although the species name annuum means “annual” (from the Latin annus "year"), the plant is not an annual but is frost tender.[8] In the absence of winter frosts it can survive several seasons and grow into a large, shrubby perennial herb.[9] The single flowers are an off-white (sometimes purplish) color while the stem is densely branched and up to 60 cm (24 in) tall. The fruits are peppers that may be green, yellow, orange or red when ripe.[10] While the species can tolerate most frost-free climates, C. annuum is especially productive in warm and dry climates.[citation needed]


While generally self-pollinating, insect visitation is known to increase the fruit size and speed of ripening, as well as to ensure symmetrical development. Pepper flowers have nectaries at the base of the corolla, which helps to attract pollinators. The anthers do not release pollen except via buzz pollination, such as provided by bumble bees.[11]



Five colors of peppers in an Israeli supermarket

The species is a source of popular sweet peppers and hot chiles with numerous varieties cultivated all around the world, and is the source of popular spices such as cayenne, chile, and paprika powders.

Common naming in English falls generally in line with the flavor and size of the variant. Larger, sweeter variants are called "capsicums" in Australia and New Zealand, "peppers" in the United Kingdom,[12][13][14] and "bell peppers" in the United States. The smaller, hotter varieties are called chiles,[15] chilies, chillies, chile, or chili peppers, or in parts of the US, "peppers".

Capsinoid chemicals provide the distinctive tastes in C. annuum variants. In particular, capsaicin creates a burning sensation ("hotness"), which in extreme cases can last for several hours after ingestion. A measurement called the Scoville scale has been created to describe the hotness of peppers and other foods.

Traditional medicine

Hot peppers are used in traditional medicine as well as food in Africa.[16] English botanist John Lindley described C. annuum in his 1838 Flora Medica thus:[17]

It is employed in medicine, in combination with Cinchona in intermittent and lethargic affections, and also in atonic gout, dyspepsia accompanied by flatulence, tympanitis, paralysis etc. Its most valuable application appears however to be in cynanche maligna (acute diphtheria) and scarlatina maligna (malignant Scarlet fever, used either as a gargle or administered internally.)

In Ayurveda, C. annuum is classified as follows:[citation needed]

  • Guna (properties) – ruksha (dry), laghu (light) and tikshna (sharp)
  • Rasa (taste) – katu (pungent)
  • Virya (potency) – ushna (hot)


Some cultivars grown specifically for their aesthetic value include the U.S. National Arboretum's 'Black Pearl'[18] and the 'Bolivian Rainbow'. Ornamental varieties tend to have unusually colored fruit and foliage with colors such as black and purple being notable. All are edible, and most (like 'Royal Black') are hot.

Host plant

The potato tuber moth (Phthorimaea operculella) is an oligophagous insect that prefers to feed on plants of the family Solanaceae such as pepper plants. Female P. operculella use the leaves to lay their eggs and the hatched larvae will eat away at the mesophyll of the leaf.


See also


  1. ^ Aguilar-Meléndez, A., Azurdia, C., Cerén-López, J., Menjívar, J. & Contreras, A. 2020. Capsicum annuum (amended version of 2019 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T100895534A172969027. Downloaded on 11 October 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Capsicum annuum". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2010-07-29.
  3. ^ Minguez Mosquera M. I., Hornero Mendez D. (1994). "Comparative study of the effect of paprika processing on the carotenoids in peppers (Capsicum annuum) of the Bola and Agridulce varieties". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 42 (7): 1555–1560. doi:10.1021/jf00043a031.
  4. ^ "The Plant List".
  5. ^ Latham, Elizabeth (2009-02-03). "The colourful world of chillies". Retrieved 2009-03-08.
  6. ^ Francis, John K. (2003-09-09). "Capsicum annuum L. bird pepper - USDA Forest Service" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-09-30.
  7. ^ Zhi-Yun Zhang, Anmin Lu & William G. D'Arcy. "Capsicum annuum Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 188. 1753". Flora of China. 17. p. 313.
  8. ^ "Peppers and chillies". Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 21 Dec 2017.
  9. ^ Katzer, Gernot (May 27, 2008). "Paprika (Capsicum annuum L.)". Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  10. ^ Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (1 July 2006). Safety assessment of transgenic organisms: OECD consensus documents. OECD Publishing. pp. 299–. ISBN 978-92-64-02258-4. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  11. ^ Capsicum pollination
  12. ^ "Food glossary – Pepper". Waitrose.
  13. ^ "Tesco Red Peppers". TESCO.
  14. ^ "Morrisons Loose Green Pepper". Morrisons.
  15. ^ "Food glossary – Chilli". Waitrose.
  16. ^ Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (2004) Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 2. Vegetables. PROTA Foundation, Wageningen; Backhuys, Leiden; CTA, Wageningen.
  17. ^ Lindley, John (1838). Flora Medica, page 509.
  18. ^ "Capsicum annuum "Black Pearl"" (PDF). U.S. National Arboretum. March 2006. Retrieved February 21, 2011.

Further reading