3 Capsicum


name = "Capsicum"

image_width = 250px
image_caption = Red Capsicum and longitudinal section
regnum = Plantae
divisio = Magnoliophyta
classis = Magnoliopsida
subclassis = Asteridae
order = Solanales
familia = Solanaceae
genus = "Capsicum"
genus_authority = L.
subdivision_ranks = Species
subdivision =
*"C. annuum"
*"C. frutescens"
*"C. chinense"
*"C. pendulum"
*"C. pubescens"
*"C. minimum"
*"C. baccatum"
*"C. abbreviatum"
*"C. anomalum"
*"C. breviflorum"
*"C. buforum"
*"C. brasilianum"
*"C. campylopodium"
*"C. cardenasii"
*"C. chacoense"
*"C. ciliare"
*"C. ciliatum"
*"C. chlorocladium"
*"C. coccineum"
*"C. cordiforme"
*"C. cornutum"
*"C. dimorphum"
*"C. dusenii"
*"C. exile"
*"C. eximium"
*"C. fasciculatum"
*"C. fastigiatum"
*"C. flexuosum"
*"C. galapagoensis"
*"C. geminifolum"
*"C. hookerianum"
*"C. lanceolatum"
*"C. leptopodum"
*"C. luteum"
*"C. microcarpum"
*"C. minutiflorum"
*"C. mirabile"
*"C. parvifolium"
*"C. praetermissum"
*"C. schottianum"
*"C. scolnikianum"
*"C. stramonifolium"
*"C. tetragonum"
*"C. tovarii"
*"C. villosum"
*"C. violaceum"

"Capsicum" is a genus of plants from the nightshade family (Solanaceae) native to the Americas, where it was cultivated for thousands of years by the people of the tropical Americas, and is now cultivated worldwide. Some of the members of "Capsicum" are used as spices, vegetables, and medicines. The fruit of "Capsicum" plants have a variety of names depending on place and type. They are commonly called chilli pepper, red or green pepper, or sweet pepper in Britain, and typically just capsicum in Australia and Indian English. The large mild form is called bell pepper in the US. They are called paprika in some other countries (although paprika can also refer to the powdered spice made from various capsicum fruit).

The original Mexican term, "chilli" (now "chile" in Spanish) came from the Nahuatl word "chilli" or "xilli", referring to a huge "Capsicum" variety cultivated at least since 3000 BC, as evidenced by remains found in pottery from Puebla and Oaxaca [Gil-Jurado, A. T., "Il senso del chile e del piccante: dalla traduzione culturale alla rappresentazione visiva" in (G. Manetti, ed.), "Semiofood: Communication and Culture of Meal, Centro Scientifico Editore, Torino, Italy, 2006:34-58] .


The fruit of "most" species of "Capsicum" contains capsaicin (methyl vanillyl nonenamide), a lipophilic chemical that can produce a strong burning sensation in the mouth (and, if not properly digested, the anus) of the unaccustomed eater. Most mammals find this unpleasant; however, birds are unaffected [Mason, J. R., Bean, N. J., Shah, P. S. & Clark, L. "Journal of Chemical Ecology" 17,2539–2551 (1991)] [Norman, D. M., Mason, J. R. & Clark, L. "The Wilson Journal of Ornithology" 104, 549–551 (1992).] . The secretion of capsaicin is an adaptation to protect the fruit from consumption by mammals while the bright colors attract birds that will spread the seeds. The amount of capsaicin in "Capsicum"s is highly variable and dependent on genetics, giving almost all types of Capsicums varied amounts of perceived heat. The only "Capsicum" without capsaicin is the bell pepper, a cultivar of "Capsicum annuum", which has a zero rating on the Scoville scale. Chili peppers are of great importance in Native American medicine, and capsaicin is used in modern medicine — mainly in topical medications — as a circulatory stimulant and pain reliever.

Although black pepper and Sichuan pepper cause similar burning sensations, they are caused by different substances—piperine and alpha-hydroxy-sanshool, respectively.


"Capsicum" fruits and peppers can be eaten raw or cooked. Those used in cooking are generally varieties of the "C. annuum" and "C. frutescens" species, though a few others are used as well. They are suitable for stuffing with fillings such as cheese, meat or rice.

They are also frequently used both chopped and raw in salads, or cooked in stir-fries or other mixed dishes. They can be sliced into strips and fried, roasted whole or in pieces, or chopped and incorporated into salsas or other sauces.

They can be preserved by drying, pickling or freezing. Dried peppers may be reconstituted whole, or processed into flakes or powders. Pickled or marinated peppers are frequently added to sandwiches or salads. Frozen peppers are used in stews, soups, and salsas. Extracts can be made and incorporated into hot sauces.

According to Richard Pankhurst, "C. frutescens" (known as "barbaré") was so important to the national cuisine of Ethiopia, at least as early as the 19th century, "that it was cultivated extensively in the warmer areas wherever the soil was suitable." [Richard Pankhurst, "Economic History of Ethiopia" (Addis Ababa: Haile Selassie I University, 1968), p. 193.] Although it was grown in every province, "barbaré" was especially extensive in Yejju, "which supplied much of Showa as well as other neighboring provinces." He singles out the upper Golima river valley as being almost entirely devoted to the cultivation of this plant, where thousands of acres were devoted to the plant and it was harvested year round. [Pankhurst, "Economic History", p. 194.]

In 2005, a poll of 2,000 people revealed the capsicum pepper to be Britain's 4th favourite culinary vegetable [cite news|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/britain/article/0,2763,1489887,00.html|work=The Guardian|date=2005-05-23|title=Onions come top for British palates|accessdate=2007-10-30] .

In Bulgaria, South Serbia and Macedonia, peppers are very popular, too. They can be eaten in salads, like Shopska Salata; fried and then covered with a dip of tomato paste, onions, garlic, and parsley; or stuffed with a variety of products - like minced meat and rice, beans, or cottage cheese and eggs. Peppers are also the main ingredient in the traditional tomato and pepper dip - lyutenitsa and ajvar . They are in the base of different kinds of pickled vegetables dishes - turshiya.

pecies and varieties

"Capsicum" contains approximately 20-27 species,cite journal
author = Walsh, B.M.
coauthors = Hoot, S.B.
year = 2001
title = Phylogenetic Relationships of Capsicum (Solanaceae) Using DNA Sequences from Two Noncoding Regions: The Chloroplast atpB-rbcL Spacer Region and Nuclear waxy Introns
journal = International Journal of Plant Sciences
volume = 162
issue = 6
pages = 1409–1418
url = http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/IJPS/journal/issues/v162n6/010108/010108.text.html
accessdate = 2007-12-20
doi = 10.1086/323273
format = dead link|date=June 2008 – [http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?hl=en&lr=&q=intitle%3APhylogenetic+Relationships+of+Capsicum+%28Solanaceae%29+Using+DNA+Sequences+from+Two+Noncoding+Regions%3A+The+Chloroplast+atpB-rbcL+Spacer+Region+and+Nuclear+waxy+Introns&as_publication=International+Journal+of+Plant+Sciences&as_ylo=2001&as_yhi=2001&btnG=Search Scholar search]
] five of which are domesticated: "C. annuum", "C. baccatum", "C. chinense", "C. frutescens", and "C. pubescens ".cite journal
author = Heiser Jr, C.B.
coauthors = Pickersgill, B.
year = 1969
title = Names for the Cultivated Capsicum Species (Solanaceae)
journal = Taxon
volume = 18
issue = 3
pages = 277–283
url = http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0040-0262(196906)18%3A3%3C277%3ANFTCCS%3E2.0.CO%3B2-L
accessdate = 2007-12-20
doi = 10.2307/1218828
] Phylogenetic relationships between species were investigated using biogeographical,cite journal
author = Tewksbury, J.J.
coauthors = Manchego, C.; Haak, D.C.; Levey, D.J.
year = 2006
title = Where did the Chili Get its Spice? Biogeography of Capsaicinoid Production in Ancestral Wild Chili Species
journal = Journal of Chemical Ecology
volume = 32
issue = 3
pages = 547–564
url = http://www.springerlink.com/index/WW8646806H541112.pdf
accessdate = 2007-12-20
doi = 10.1007/s10886-005-9017-4
] morphological,cite journal
author = Eshbaugh, W.H.
year = 1970
title = A Biosystematic and Evolutionary Study of Capsicum baccatum (Solanaceae)
journal = Brittonia
volume = 22
issue = 1
pages = 31–43
url = http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0007-196X(197001%2F03)22%3A1%3C31%3AABAESO%3E2.0.CO%3B2-K
accessdate = 2007-12-20
doi = 10.2307/2805720
] chemosystematic,cite journal
author = Ballard, R.E.
coauthors = McClure, J.W.; Eshbaugh, W.H.; Wilson, K.G.
year = 1970
title = A Chemosystematic Study of Selected Taxa of Capsicum
journal = American Journal of Botany
volume = 57
issue = 2
pages = 225–233
url = http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0002-9122(197002)57:2%3C225:ACSOST%3E2.0.CO;2-I
accessdate = 2007-12-20
doi = 10.2307/2440517
] hybridization,cite journal
author = Pickersgill, B.
year = 1971
title = Relationships Between Weedy and Cultivated Forms in Some Species of Chili Peppers (Genus capsicum)
journal = Evolution
volume = 25
issue = 4
pages = 683–691
url = http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0014-3820(197112)25%3A4%3C683%3ARBWACF%3E2.0.CO%3B2-H
accessdate = 2007-12-20
doi = 10.2307/2406949
] and genetic data. Fruits of "Capsicum" can vary tremendously in color, shape, and size both between and within species, which has led to confusion over the relationships between taxa.cite journal
author = Eshbaugh, W.H.
year = 1975
title = Genetic and Biochemical Systematic Studies of Chili Peppers (Capsicum-Solanaceae)
journal = Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club
volume = 102
issue = 6
pages = 396–403
url = http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0040-9618(197511%2F12)102%3A6%3C396%3AGABSSO%3E2.0.CO%3B2-9
accessdate = 2007-12-20
doi = 10.2307/2484766
] Chemosystematic studies helped distinguish the difference between varieties and species. For example, "C. baccatum" var. "baccatum" had the same flavonoids as "C. baccatum" var. "pendulum", which led researchers to believe that the two groups belonged to the same species.

Many varieties of the same species can be used in many different ways; for example, "C. annuum" includes the "bell pepper" variety, which is sold in both its immature green state and its red, yellow or orange ripe state. This same species has other varieties as well, such as the Anaheim chiles often used for stuffing, the dried Ancho chile used to make chili powder, the mild-to-hot Jalapeño, and the smoked, ripe Jalapeño, known as a Chipotle.

Most of the capsaicin in a pungent (hot) pepper is concentrated in blisters on the epidermis of the interior ribs (septa) that divide the chambers of the fruit to which the seeds are attached.cite journal
author = Zamski, E.
coauthors = Shoham, O.; Palevitch, D.; Levy, A.
year = 1987
title = Ultrastructure of Capsaicinoid-Secreting Cells in Pungent and Nonpungent Red Pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) Cultivars
journal = Botanical Gazette
volume = 148
issue = 1
pages = 1–6
url = http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0006-8071(198703)148%3A1%3C1%3AUOCCIP%3E2.0.CO%3B2-S
accessdate = 2007-12-20
doi = 10.1086/337620
] A study on capsaicin production in fruits of "C. chinense" showed that capsaicinoids are produced only in the epidermal cells of the interlocular septa of pungent fruits, that blister formation only occurs as a result of capsaicinoid accumulation, and that pungency and blister formation are controlled by a single locus, "Pun1", for which there exist at least two recessive alleles that result in non-pungency of "C. chinense" fruits.cite journal
author = Stewart Jr, C.
coauthors = Mazourek, M.; Stellari, G.M.; O'Connell, M.; Jahn, M.
year = 2007
title = Genetic control of pungency in C. chinense via the Pun1 locus
journal = Journal of Experimental Botany
volume = 58
issue = 5
pages = 979
doi = 10.1093/jxb/erl243
accessdate = 2007-12-20
pmid = 17339653

The amount capsaicin in hot peppers varies very significantly between varieties, and is measured in Scoville heat units (SHU).

ynonyms and common names

The name given to the Capsicum fruits varies between English-speaking countries.

In Australia, New Zealand and India, heatless species are called "capsicums" while hot ones are called "chilli/chillies" (double L). Pepperoncini are also known as "sweet capsicum". The term "bell peppers" is rarely used, and then usually in reference to C. annuum and other varieties which have a bell-shape and are fairly hot, they are more usually called "bell chillies".

In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the heatless varieties are called "capsicums", "sweet peppers" or "peppers" (or "green peppers," "red peppers," etc) while the hot ones are "chilli/chillies" (double L) or "chilli peppers".

In the United States and Canada, the common heatless species is referred to as "bell peppers," "sweet peppers," "red/green/etc peppers," or simply "peppers", while the hot species are collectively called "chile/chiles," "chili/chilies," or "chili/chile peppers" (one L only), "hot peppers", or named as a specific variety (e.g., banana pepper). In many midwestern regions of the United States the Sweet Bell Pepper was commonly called a mango. [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/mango] With the modern advent of fresh tropical fruit importers exposing a wider latitude of individuals to the tropical fruit variety of the mango, this usage has become archaic. However some menus still call a stuffed bell pepper a mango.

The name "pepper" came into use because the plants were hot in the same sense as the condiment black pepper, "Piper nigrum". But there is no botanical relationship with this plant, nor with Sichuan Pepper.

In Polish there is different confusion. The term "papryka" is used for all kinds of capsicum peppers (the sweet vegetable, and the hot spicy) as well as for dried and grind spice made from them (named paprika in US-English). Also fruit and spice can be attributed as "papryka ostra" (hot pepper) or "papryka słodka" (sweet pepper). The term "pieprz" (pepper) instead means only grained or grind black pepper (incl. its green, white, and red forms) but not capsicum.Sometimes the hot capsicum spice is also called "chilli" (what is actually improperly spelled).

In Italy the sweet varieties are called "peperoni" and the hot varieties "peperoncini" (literally "small peppers"). In France and Canada, by the French Canadians, capsicum are called "poivron". In German and Dutch, confusingly, capsicum are called "paprika".

In Spanish-speaking countries there are many different names for each variety and preparation. In Mexico the term "chile" is used for "hot peppers" while the heatless varieties are called "pimiento" (the masculine form of the word for pepper which is "pimienta"). Several other countries, such as Chile, whose name is unrelated, Perú, and Argentina, use "ají". In Spain, heatless varieties are called "pimiento" and hot varieties "guindilla".

In Indian English, the word "capsicum" is used exclusively for Capsicum annuum. All other varieties of hot capsicum are called chilli. In northern India and Pakistan, Capsicum annuum is also commonly called "Shimla Mirch" in the native languages. Shimla incidentally is a popular hill-station in India (and "Mirch" means chilli in local languages).

Pictures of capsicum cultivars

ee also

Scoville scale


External links

* [http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/med-aro/factsheets/CAPSICUM_PEPPER.html Capsicum pepper factsheet] as of 2002-06-10
* cite book
publisher= International Board for Plant Genetic Resources, Rome, Italy

* [http://www.bioversityinternational.org/Publications/pubfile.asp?ID_PUB=345 Descriptors for Capsicum (Capsicum spp.)]
* [http://www.ethno-botanik.org/Capsicum/Chili_und_Paprikasorten_Capsicum.html over 2000 different Names of Capsicum spp.] (www.ethno-botanik.org)
* [http://www.thechilliking.com/Growing.shtml Chile growing guide]
* [http://www.prometheussprings.com/ Prometheus Springs: Capsicum Infused Elixir]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Capsicum — annuum Capsicum chinense Capsicum pendulum Capsicum pubescens Capsicum minimum Capsicum baccatum Capsicum abbreviatum Capsicum anomalum Capsicum breviflorum Capsicum buforum Capsicum brasilianum Capsicum campylopodium Capsicum cardenasii Capsicum …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Capsicum — Capsicum …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Capsicum — Cap si*cum (k[a^]p s[i^]*k[u^]m), n. [NL., fr. L. capsa box, chest.] (Bot.) A genus of plants of many species, producing capsules or dry berries of various forms, which have an exceedingly pungent, biting taste, and when ground form the red or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • capsicum — [kap′si kəm] n. [ModL < L capsa, a box (see CASE2), from the shape of the seedpods] 1. any of a genus (Capsicum) of pepper plants of the nightshade family, with fleshy, usually red pods, including the hot peppers (Tabasco, bird, chili,… …   English World dictionary

  • Capsĭcum — (Beißbeere, C. L.,), Pflanzengattung aus der Familie der Solanaceae Solaneae, 1. Ordn. 5. Kl. L., mit fünfzähnigem Kelche, fünfspaltiger, radförmiger Blumenkrone, zweifächerigen Staubbeuteln, die der Länge nach aufspringen, u. stumpfer Narbe,… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Capsĭcum — L. (Beißbeere, spanischer Pfeffer), Gattung der Solanazeen, ein oder mehrjährige Kräuter, seltener am Grund verholzend, mit wechsel oder gegenständigen, gestielten, ungeteilten, ganzrandigen Blättern, einzelnen, weißen, radförmigen Blüten und… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Capsicum — Capsĭcum L., Beißbeere, Pflanzengattg. der Solanazeen, trop. Sträucher und Kräuter. C. annūum L. (Schotenpfeffer, Span. Pfeffer [Abb. 316; a Blüte, b Frucht längs , c querdurchschnitten]), in Südamerika, in allen wärmern Ländern kultiviert, mit… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • capsicum — ⇒CAPSICUM, subst. masc. BOT. Plante, généralement tropicale, de la famille des Solanacées, et dont les fruits ou les graines (de certaines espèces), réduits en poudre, sont utilisés comme condiments (paprika, poivre de Cayenne) [d apr. Méd. Biol …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • capsicum — (n.) 1660s, genus of pepper plants, of unknown origin, a word said to have been chosen by French botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (1656 1708) and generally connected with L. capsa box (see CASE (Cf. case) (n.2)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • capsicum — ► NOUN (pl. capsicums) ▪ the fruit of a tropical American plant, of which sweet peppers and chilli peppers are varieties. ORIGIN Latin, perhaps from capsa container, case …   English terms dictionary

  • Capsicum — Paprika Blühende Capsicum annuum Systematik Abteilung: Bedecktsamer (Magnoliophyta) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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