Pepper Plant Identification Chart
The bell pepper (Capsicum annuum) is one of the most common peppers grown worldwide. The bell pepper plant grows up to 6 feet tall and wide with a slender stem. It produces small yellow flowers in clusters that are followed by seeds that fall from the flower stalks after flowering ends. The seeds germinate within 12 hours and begin growing into new plants within two weeks.
The seeds will produce seedlings for at least five years.
Bell peppers have been used throughout history for their culinary uses such as pickling, marinades, sauces and seasoning. They are popularly eaten fresh or canned in soups, chili sauce and other dishes. Bell peppers are widely cultivated in many countries around the world including Mexico, Central America, South America and Africa.
There are three main varieties of bell peppers: New Mexican, Carolina and Habanero. There are also several subspecies of bell peppers. These include the sweet red, jalapeno, serrano and habanero. Each variety has its own taste and characteristics.
Green bell peppers have a slightly bitter taste that becomes sweeter as they ripen until they reach the mature red color. Yellow and orange bell peppers have a sweet flavor when ripe. Red, yellow and orange bell peppers have more beta-carotene than green bell peppers. The red color is due to the capsanthin pigment in the skin but most of the sweet taste is due to the increased number of cell walls which contain starch.
Capsicum annuum is native to the New World and has been used in American and European cooking for over 7,000 years. Peppers contain Vitamin C but have a low amount of calories.
The bell pepper is one of the most commonly used spices in cooking. Although they have a relatively mild taste, they add an interesting flavor to many dishes.
The jalapeno is a variety of Capsicum annuum that is native to Mexico. It is very popularly used in American, Mexican and Caribbean cooking. The name comes from the Nahuatl word, xalapeño, which means big chili with a spicy flavor due to its hot capsaicin content. The long, tapered green pod grows to a maximum of 4 inches in length and an inch in diameter when fully ripe.
The jalapeno chile pepper is very popular in salsa, cornbread and other Mexican dishes.
The Serrano pepper (Capsicum annuum) grows to about 2 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. It has a fresh flavor and is hotter than the jalapeno chile pepper. The Serrano chile has thin skin so it does not store well. It is most often used in salsas, sauces and chili.
It is also popularly used to flavor various dishes.
The habanero chile (Capsicum chinense) comes from the Amazon region of South America. It is a small tree that grows to about 12 feet tall with lantern-like flowers. The habanero pepper is about 2 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. It is one of the hottest chili peppers cultivated.
It has a distinctive flavor that is popular in hot sauces. The the scoville rating for the habanero is about 300,000 to 500,000 SHU. Pepper spray has a rating of 5,000 SHU.
Can You Eat Green Peppers?
Green bell peppers do contain more nutrients than their ripe red counterparts. One cup of green pepper contains Vitamin C, 6% of the RDA of Vitamin K and a little over 1% of the RDA of Vitamin A. Red bell peppers contain 81 calories, 0 grams of fat, 22 carbs and 3 grams of fiber. One cup of red bell pepper contains 18% of the daily value of Vitamin C and 6% of the daily value of Folate or Folic Acid. Green bell peppers are not significantly higher in any nutrients than red bell peppers.
Whether you choose red, green or yellow bell peppers, they are low in calories and have no fat, so add them to your diet. They have a slightly sweet taste and add a delicious flavor to many dishes. Red bell peppers have a slightly sweeter taste than green bell peppers. They have been shown to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer and help protect against cardiovascular disease.
Add bell peppers to your meals today!
Sources & references used in this article:
Effect of foliar applications of neem oil and fish emulsion on bacterial spot and yield of tomatoes and peppers by PA Abbasi, DA Cuppels… – Canadian journal of plant …, 2003 – Taylor & Francis
Molecular basis for species-specific sensitivity to “hot” chili peppers by SE Jordt, D Julius – Cell, 2002 – Elsevier
Relationships between weedy and cultivated forms in some species of chili peppers (genus Capsicum) by B Pickersgill – Evolution, 1971 – JSTOR
Starch fossils and the domestication and dispersal of chili peppers (Capsicum spp. L.) in the Americas by L Perry, R Dickau, S Zarrillo, I Holst, DM Pearsall… – …, 2007 – science.sciencemag.org
1H NMR-based metabolomic fingerprinting to determine metabolite levels in serrano peppers (Capsicum annum L.) grown in two different regions by E Becerra-Martínez, E Florentino-Ramos… – Food Research …, 2017 – Elsevier
Antimicrobial properties of chili peppers by MA Omolo, ZZ Wong, K Mergen… – Journal of Infectious …, 2014 – researchgate.net
Changes in the contents of antioxidant compounds in pepper fruits at different ripening stages, as affected by salinity by JM Navarro, P Flores, C Garrido, V Martinez – Food Chemistry, 2006 – Elsevier
Breeding Peppers by B Villalón – Plant Disease, 1981 – apsnet.org