Capsicum, the pepper, is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family Solanaceae.
Its species are native to America, where they have been cultivated for thousands of years.
Peppers are cultivated worldwide and used in many cuisines.
Capsicum consists of 20–27 species, five of which are domesticated.
The genus comprises all the varied forms of fleshy-fruited peppers, including the mild bell peppers that are used as a vegetable and the hot peppers, such as habanero and tabasco, that are used as relishes, pickled, or ground into a fine powder for use as a spice. Some peppers are grown as ornamentals.
Pepper plants are perennials but are grown as tender summer annuals in most areas outside their native habitat.
The plants become woody as the growing season progresses and bear simple, alternately arranged leaves with smooth margins.
The paired or solitary flowers are typically small with five white petals.
Pepper fruits come in a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from the small and nearly circular ají charapita to the long and thin tabasco pepper and to the large, furrowed fruits of the bell pepper.
Their attributes such as pungency, color, aroma, and flavor are desirable in a variety of culinary dishes around the world, which make them widely appreciated.
Hot peppers derive their pungency from capsaicin, a substance characterized by acrid vapours and burning taste.
The only pepper without capsaicin is the bell pepper.
The generic name “Capsicum” may come from Latin capsa, meaning “box”, presumably alluding to the pods – or from the Greek word κάπτω – kapto, meaning “to bite” or “to swallow”.
The name “pepper” comes from the similarity of piquance (spiciness or “heat”) of the flavor to that of black pepper, Piper nigrum, although there is no botanical relationship with it.
The original term “chilli” came from the Nahuatl word chīlli, denoting a larger Capsicum variety cultivated at least since 3000 BC, as evidenced by remains found in pottery from Puebla and Oaxaca.
Paprika a powdered spice with a deep orange-red color and a mildly pungent flavor, made from the dried and ground fruits of certain varieties of pepper. It is one of the world’s most popular spices.
Packages of 3 bell peppers , green, yellow and red are sometimes sold as “Traffic Light Peppers.”
The highest amount of Vitamin C in a bell pepper is concentrated in the red variety.
Today, there are more than 400 different varieties of chilies found all over the world.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the hottest chili pepper in the world is the Carolina Reaper, with a measure of 1,641,183 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), a measurement that quantifies spiciness via the concentration of capsaicinoids in the pepper. For reference, bell peppers have an SHU measure of 0,
and Tabasco sauce measures in at around 2,500 SHU, making the Carolina Reaper very deserving of its name.
The heaviest bell pepper – a cultivar of Capsicum annuum – weighed 720 g (1 lb 9 oz) and was grown by Ian Neale (UK) and ratified at the Canna UK National Giant Vegetables Championships, staged at the Malvern Autumn Show in the Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire, UK, on 29 September 2018.
Peru is thought to be the country with the highest cultivated Capsicum diversity since varieties of all five domesticates are commonly sold in markets in contrast to other countries.