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Chilli Plants: Capsicum Annuum

The Capsicum Pubescens species is quite different from all other domesticated species of peppers and is also the least cultivated and least widespread of them all.

They are identified by their black seeds and hairy leaves (the name component pubescens means hairy). All of the peppers in this species have a distinctive capsaicinoid content, which gives them a flavour and heat that is different from all other peppers.

Some of the cultivars are even hotter than the habanero! A significant trait of this species is its ability to withstand and even thrive in temperatures that are lower than the temperatures other pepper plants can handle.

Native to Bolivia and Peru, the Capsicum pubescens species is now grown throughout Latin America but is not seen in too many countries outside of that. The plants and fruit are known as locoto in Bolivia and rocoto in Bolivia. Some of the more well known varieties in this species are the Mexican Manzanos, Bolivian Locotos and Peruvian Rocotos.
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Of the five domesticated chilli species, Capsicum annuum is the most common and extensively cultivated, both commercially and in home gardens as well. This species includes the largest number of well-known chillies and also the most-sold chillies, from Cayenne, Bell Peppers, Jalapenos, Nu-Mex, Poblano, Hungarian Wax, De Arbol, Pequin, Thai, New Mexican and Cherry to Pimento, Cuban, Anaheim, Peter Pepper, Serranos, Paprika and Wax pod types.

Interesting Facts on the C. Annuum Species


Annuum, meaning ‘annual’ is in fact misleading given that the chillies from this species are perennials under optimum growing conditions.

Capsicum annuum has the highest diversity of shapes and the best way to recognize this species is by the process of elimination. All other species have some characteristic traits. Any particular chilli variety not showing those traits, would more likely than not belong to this species.

Earlier, annuums were divided into 2 categories –hot Chilli peppers and sweet or mild peppers. Today, modern breeding of the plant has eliminated that distinction with the introduction of sweet Jalapenos and several varieties of hot bell peppers. In the UK, the hot varieties are called chillies and the sweet varieties are called red or green peppers.


Physical Characteristics


The pods of this species, which can be green, violet, nearly white or nearly black when unripe, will ripen to red, orange, yellow, brown or even brownish-black.


Native Habitat & Growing Conditions


According to archaeological research, wild ancestors of this species evolved in Bolivia and southern Brazil and were first domesticated about 6,100 years ago.

While the species is quite tolerant of weather extremes it is especially productive in warm and dry climates and cannot survive in very cold conditions. They can be grown as perennials where temperatures remain between 60F and 85F all year round.
Cultural And Culinary Uses

Hot chilli peppers are used extensively as flavouring in several cuisines including Indian, Thai, Korean and Chinese as well as in many Latin American and African dishes. The fresh or dried fruits are used in curries, marinades, soups and salads and also as a component in stir fry dishes.

Some cultivars such as the Bolivian Rainbow and the U.S. National Arboretum’s Black Pearl are grown primarily for their aesthetic value. These ornamental varieties have very prominent fruit and foliage in striking colours and often display fruits of 4 or 5 colours simultaneously in one plant, with the different colours denoting the various stages of growth. The popular Christmas Peppers earned their distinctive name because they were originally only available at Christmas time and had red and green fruit. All of these varieties are edible and most of them are quite mild.


Tips for Planting and Growing Capsicum Annuum Plants


Capsicum annuum seeds are best planted indoors 8-10 weeks before the final frost.

The pot with the seedlings should be placed in a sunny location where the temperature is consistently between 70F and 80F. Capsicum annuum seeds will not germinate if the plants are consistently exposed to temperatures below 55F.

For best results, it is important to make sure that the temperature of the newly planted seeds does not drop lower than 65 F.

Make sure your plant gets enough light. Total lack of light or insufficient lighting during germination will produce underdeveloped, scraggly looking capsicum transplants.

Avoid planting Capscium annuum in the same spot that potatoes or eggplant were previously grown.

Watering Rules: Water immediately after planting so that the soil settles down. Continue watering once a week to keep soil consistently damp until the emerging growth is visible. After germination, reduce watering to once every two weeks to prepare the plant for transplanting.


Enjoying The Fruits Of Your Labour


Growing capsicum annuum takes a bit of effort as they need to be started right from seed but the rewards are well worth it. The fruit is ready for harvest after about 120 days. The mature fruit will be full sized and firm to the touch and can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 – 3 weeks. They can also be frozen if you need to increase the lifespan of your bumper crop!

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Founded by Sarah Hunt in 2008, World of Chillies is an online chilli shop specialising in chilli plants, seeds, gifts, dried chillies and sauces.

We are dedicated to the pursuit of everything that is hot and great.

We stock an extensive range of chilli plugs and plants varieties from around the world. VAT reg 223 1269 42
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