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Capsicum annuum (chilli pepper)

This species includes a wide variety of peppers, including chilli peppers used in curries and sweet bell peppers used in salads.
The spicy red fruit growing on this chilli pepper plant at Kew Gardens

Capsicum annuum at Kew Gardens

Species information

Scientific name: 

Capsicum annuum L.

Common name: 

chilli pepper, bell pepper, paprika, cayenne, halapenos, chitlepin, Christmas pepper

Conservation status: 

Widespread; Least Concern (LC) according to IUCN Red List criteria.

Habitat: 

Tropical deciduous forest. Widely cultivated.

Key Uses: 

Food, flavouring, ornamental.

Known hazards: 

Juice (of the fruit) can cause dermatitis; avoid contact with eyes.

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Asteranae
Order: 
Solanales
Family: 
Solanaceae
Genus: Capsicum

About this species

A bewildering variety of colourful and spicy fruits make Capsicum peppers instantly recognisable to both gardeners and chefs. Originally from South and Central America, their popularity continues to grow across the world due to their ease of cultivation, frequently sharp taste and attractive appearance.

There are more than 200 common names in use for this species. The most common include chilli pepper, paprika (sweet varieties); bell pepper, cayenne, halapenos, chitlepin (hot varieties); and Christmas peppers (ornamental). Capsicum annuum should not be confused with ’black pepper’, Piper nigrum, which belongs to a distantly related plant family (Piperaceae).

Synonym: 

Capsicum annuum var. aviculare (Dierb.) D'Arcy & Eschbaugh

Genus: 
Capsicum

main info

Courses at Kew

Kew offers a variety of specialist training courses in horticulture, conservation and plant science.

Students learn about plant taxonomy and identification

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