Chilli Plants: Capsicum Chinense

Commonly known as “Yellow Lantern Chilli”, the Capsicum chinense species is famous for its exceptional heat and includes some of the hottest cultivars on earth, from the legendary Red Savina, Scotch Bonnet and Trinidad Scorpion to the Bhut Jolokia and all the Habanero varieties.

Other popular chinense varieties include the Congo Pepper, Rocotillo, Jamaican Hot, Bonda Man Jacques, Rocotillo, Adjuma, Red Dominica, Goat Pepper and Datil.

Although the plants as well as the pod types are vary tremendously in this species, these chillies are characterised by their distinct fruity aroma, which has been described as being similar to that of apricot.
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Hot pepper-lovers are passionate about the ultra spicy peppers in this species, each with their own attributes and heat levels. Grown for their fiery flavour and fruity aroma, this species is mostly associated with the cuisines of Mexico and the Caribbean. Chinense, literally translated means ‘from China’, which is far from correct. This species originated in the Amazon Basin and is native to the Caribbean Islands, the Yucatan region and Central America.

Interestingly, while this species is reputed for its hotter-than-hot varieties, it also includes a few varieties such as the Nu Mex Suave and the Trinidad Perfume, which are mild but aromatic.

Physical Characteristics

The plants are typically bushy with rigid, upright stems, large, thin and wrinkled green leaves and 2-6 flowers per knot. The flowers are usually small and white with five petals. The size and shape of the peppers is enormously variable and can range from small and rounded like birdshot to elongated, bonnet, bell or lantern shaped.
These chillies can be harvested when green or they can be left on the tree and allowed to mature to full colour. The mature fruits exhibit a range of colours from sunshine yellow, fiery orange and bright red to deep purple and dark, almost-black chocolate brown depending upon the selection. On the inside, the fruit has a spongy ribbing that divides the internal space and supports several small-sized, round and flattened seeds.

Growing Capsicum Chinense Plants

Being a tropical species, Chinense varieties tend to grow best in areas of high humidity. In warmer climates, the plant behaves as a perennial and can live for several years but it cannot survive the winter in colder climates. However, over the next growing season, a new plant will readily germinate from the previous years’ seed.

The plants are relatively slow growers with longer growing seasons as compared to many of the other species. Moreover the seeds take longer to germinate and the fruits take longer to mature, especially in temperate climates. Total time from seed to harvest is about 80 to 120 days.

Particular attention should be paid to keeping them away from pets and children particularly when used as ornamental plants on window sills and as mixed borders. This is because the heat from these peppers is so intense it can burn the skin, mouth and eyes.
Cultural And Culinary Use

The chillies from this species have been used for centuries to add a significant amount of heat in Yucatan, Mexican and Caribbean style cooking. The chillies are used mainly in sauces and stews and to make a marinade for joints of meat. Because of their characteristic, fruity flavour, these Chinense chilli peppers are essential ingredients in the preparation of some of the more classic recipes from these cuisines. When cooking these dishes, the chillies cannot be replaced by varieties from any other species without completely altering the flavour of the dish.

Another popular use of these chillies is to add mild heat when cooking very large quantities of stew or soup in restaurants. Adding these superhot varieties helps to cut down the costs as the heat from one Chinense chilli equals the heat of several of the milder varieties.
This species has high decorative value as well. Their unusually shaped flowers and the wide variety of fruit shapes lends itself well as an ornamental plant that can be used to add an element of interest to any environment, from flowerbeds to window sills.
About Us
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


Hastings, East Sussex, U.K.
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