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Updated on April 12, 2011

Capsicum L. is a genus of plants of the Solanaceae family, native to America but now cultivated throughout the world. Addition to the familiar bell pepper, the genus includes several species of hot peppers, ornamentals, and desserts. According to some, the Latin name Capsicum is derived from "caps", which means the box, and owes its name to the particular shape of the fruit (a berry), which gives it the seeds inside a box. Others derive from the greek meaning kapto bite, with obvious reference to the spice that "bites" the tongue when you eat.It is a herbal plant.



The hot pepper was used as food since ancient times. From the testimony of archaeological finds we know that as early as 5500 BC was known in Mexico, present in those areas as the crop, and was the only spice used by the Indians of Peru and Mexico. In Europe, the chili came thanks to Christopher Columbus who brought it from America with his second voyage in 1493. Since Columbus landed on an island in the Caribbean, most likely the species he encountered was the Capsicum chinense, Scotch Bonnet or Habanero varieties, the most popular in the islands.


Then introduced to Europe by the Spaniards, was an instant success, but the gains expected from the Spanish market of the fruit (as was the case with other oriental spices) were disappointing, because the pepper is well acclimated to the old continent, spreading in all southern regions, in Africa and Asia, and was thus adopted as a spice also from that part of the population who could not afford to buy cinnamon, nutmeg, etc..


The fruit was called peppers because of the similarity in taste (though not in appearance), with pepper, Piper in Latin. The name of what was called the new world in the Nahuatl language was Xilli or chilli (or more Cilli Scilla), and has remained essentially Spanish in Mexico and Central America (Chile) and English (pounds) and well in the names of some varieties, such as Chiltepin (C. annuum var. aviculare), derived from the Flea nauhatl chilitecpintl or chili, for the size and fiercely spicy taste. The Chiltepin is considered the ancestor of all other species. In the countries of South America in Spanish and Portuguese, however, is commonly called aji, modernization dell'antillano asci. The word in Quechua for chillies has Uchu, as is the name used by the Incas for rocoto: Uchu rocoto, chili often fleshy.


 The Capsicum annuum is a short-lived perennial shrub that, in unfavorable weather conditions, is grown as an annual. The plants are in the form of bush from 40 to 80 cm high (depending on species) with light green leaves. The flowers have a white corolla with 5 to 7 petals with pale yellow stamens. Other species have different behaviors: C. frutescens means "shaped like a shrub, while many varieties of C. chinense reach 2 meters in the countries of origin. The resistance to cold and warm climate varies: the tabasco (C. frutescens) and rocoto (C. pubescens), for example, are resistant to -5 ° C even for short periods, while the habanero (C. chinense) is very sensitive to the unusual: if too much cause sunburn on the fruit. The Capsicum pubescens has purple flowers and seeds blacks, Capsicum baccatum has some speckles on the corolla, the corolla has Capsicum chinense or greenish white stamens and purple, with 2 or more flowers per node. Capsicum frutescens also has the corolla and stamens greenish purple, but the flowers are single.


All species can be grown in a balcony, spreading toward the center in February and March south to north, while the fruits can be harvested in summer and autumn. These should be used immediately after harvest so that they do not lose their property, but can be stored in oil or powder (after being dried in the sun), or frozen. Sowing takes place in February-March, depending on the climate, possibly in a heated to a temperature of 25-30 ° C, consisting of seeds, ½ ½ sand and peat. Some varieties, particularly C. chinense and Chiltepin have long germination time. These can be reduced with proper fertilization, compost and a temperature of 30-35 ° C during the day, and about 20 ° C at night.At the tick of the second pair of true leaves, transplanting the seedlings into individual containers and then be planted after the last frost, and at night when the temperature drops below 15 ° C (April-May). The soil should be loose, acid, well drained soil with a good sandy component, do not fertilize too: an excessive use of nitrates lead to beautiful leafy plants with few or no flower, and then fruit. Okay made a John Innes number 2: successive fertilization should be limited to potassium, phosphorus and trace elements. Nitrogen should be re-administered only if the plant is made winters, the vegetative growth.

Contrary to popular belief, the chili has a lot of water during cultivation, but without creating puddles. To increase the hot taste of the fruit, just reduce watering, also clear in 48-72 hours prior to collection, being careful not to kill the plant. Another technique is to water only when the leaves are down, a clear sign of water shortage.

To encourage the development of the fruit, you can increase the potassium content of the soil, for example with potassium sulphate.

C. chinense requires a lot of calcium, which can be added by using bone meal or equivalent. When the plant stops the growth and new leaves wither, is a sign of calcium deficiency.

Being short-lived perennial, winter can be done at home, in a warm and sunny. Must be brought indoors or in greenhouses at night when the temperature drops below 10 ° C (the tropics, below 15 ° C), while during the day can be carried out if the temperature is above 15-20 ° C . In winter the plants may lose their leaves, and require at least a pruning of dead branches in March.


 The method usually used is the reproduction by seed, although it is possible to make semi-ripe cuttings of branches, long 10 to 15 cm, covering the end with rooting hormone and putting them in cold box consists of a root, then transplanting in planted vessel or land in the same period of the plants raised from seeds. This method is used to rejuvenate a plant made in winter or in the greenhouse. You can graft more resistant to Solanaceae, or type the capsicastrum solanum solanum jasminoides, however, is not very widespread, both for the low success rate, is the difficulty of grafting with woody plants.


 The pepper is attacked by several insects and fungi. Among the insects are of greater importance to the whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum), the pink borer (Agrotis ipsilon), the American leafminer (Liriomyza trifolii) and an aphid, Macrosiphum euphorbiae. Among the fungi, the most important are the gray mold, mildew, foot gangrene and wilt caused by Fusarium oxysporum, Verticillium albo-atrum and Verticillium dahliae.


 The substance principal architect of hotness is the alkaloid capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-or nonenamide C18H27NO3), together with 4 other related natural substances, collectively called capsaicinoids, which also include other synthetic. Capsacinoide Each has its spiciness and taste different in the mouth, and a change in the proportions of these substances causes the different sensations produced by different varieties, as well as to their content. Capsaicin causes pain and inflammation if consumed to excess, and may even cause blistering burn, whether in high concentrations (habanero chilies, for example, are collected with gloves). It is also the main ingredient in pepper spray, used as a "non-lethal weapon."


The burning sensation that we perceive, the more intense and persistent as the chili is spicy, in reality does not exist in the sense that you do not have a temperature rise in our mouths. Capsaicin interacts with just a few thermoreceptors in the mouth, stomach and anus, which sends a signal to the brain as if our mouths or our stomach "burn". The same feeling is when they defecate, the same as thermoreceptors are present in the anus.


The hotness of peppers is measured empirically by the Scoville scale, in degrees from 0 to 10, and quantitatively in Scoville Units, based in ppm weight / weight of capsaicin and diidrocapsaicina. The sweet pepper for example, has zero Scoville units, the jalapenos are from 3.000 to 10.000 Up, while the Habaneros come to 600,000 Scoville units. The record for the highest number of Scoville units in a pepper is assigned by the Guinness Book of Records at the Bhut Jolokia Indian, who has scored more than 1,000,000 units. In 2006, was presented the variety Dorset Naga, which is derived from the latter, that measure also has over 1,000,000 SU. The pure capsaicin measure as a reference, 16 or 15 million units, according to the calibration, for which 16 or 15 Scoville units is equivalent to 1 ppm.


·         C. annuum (maximum Chiltepin, ~ 100,000 SU)

·         C. baccatum (Aji maximum red, ~ 100,000 SU)

·         C. pubescens (maximum rocoto, ~ 100,000 SU)

·         C. frutescens (maximum bird's eye, ~ 175,000 SU)

·         C. chinense (maximum of Red Savina, ON ~ 580,000)

·         C. frutescens x chinense (Bhut Jolokia, Dorset Naga and the like, the Guinness Book of Records record ~ ​​1000000 SU)



Should be noted however that even in C. chinense, which has just some of the hottest in the world, there are cultivars to 0. However, starting from 250,000 up, the sensation of hotness gives way to pain and its intensity is largely constant regardless of the content of capsaicin, while increasing the spread in the mouth and throat, and persistence over time. Therefore, taste a Bhut Jolokia or orange habanero, apart from the taste, gives the same sensation of pain, only that the former lasts longer. One of the best ways to relieve the burning sensation is to drink milk, eat yogurt or any dairy product, preferably a soft paste or liquid. In fact, a protein found in dairy products, casein, cakes capsaicin, removing it from the nerve receptors.


Capsaicin dissolves very well in fats and alcohol, and also fats or alcohol to help remove the pain. At high concentrations, such as Red Savina nell'habanero or various extracts, the most effective way is to use the ice as an anesthetic.


A glass of cold milk, sipped slowly, it is undoubtedly the "remedy" excessive hotness best, to keep on hand for the taste of spicy sauces or chili unknown. Very effective even eat bread, especially the bread, because it removes mechanically the chili from the mouth.


 The chili sauce is a very popular, despite the pain and irritation it causes. Four compounds of chili, including flavonoids and capsaicinoids, have an antibacterial effect, so food cooked with hot peppers can be kept relatively long. This also explains why the more you move from warm climate regions, the greater is the use of pepper and other spices.

Hot peppers are rich in vitamin C and are believed to have many beneficial effects on human health, if used in moderation and in the absence of gastrointestinal problems. The chili has a strong antioxidant, and this earned him the reputation of cancer. In addition, the chili has proven useful in the treatment of colds such as colds, bronchitis and sinusitis, and aiding digestion. These virtues are mainly due to capsaicin, can increase the secretion of mucus and digestive juices. In the last chili stimulating peristalsis promotes transit and evacuation, the most rapid intestinal passage in synergy with the antibacterial and antifungal prevent fermentation and gas formation and intestinal toxins, particularly toxins of candida albicans.


Some studies have found increased metabolism and lower blood insulin after eating food seasoned with hot peppers. The peppers can also be used as a painkiller in arthritis, diabetic neuropathy, post-herpetic neuralgia and trigeminal , symptoms of post-mastectomy, cluster headache. The capsaicinoids act at the level of nociceptors through specific vanilloid receptor VR-1 as receptor desensitizing themselves to painful stimuli, in a first phase through an "acute desensitization" and then through a tachyphylaxis (reduced response to successive applications of receptor capsaicinoids). One could also imagine that the sensation of pain produced by capsaicin stimulates the brain to produce endorphins, a natural opiate that can act as analgesics and produce a feeling of wellbeing. The psychologist Paul Rozin believes that eating chiles is an example of "low risk", like a rollercoaster, where extreme feelings such as fear and pain can bring pleasure because we know that there are actually dangerous.


Other beneficial effects of red pepper as its aphrodisiac powers, have not been confirmed by scientific research, while it seems possible a slight correlation with certain types of stomach cancer in susceptible individuals.


Many traditional medicines used as a folk remedy for the chili, and Ayurvedic medicine recommends it for the treatment of peptic ulcers.


The birds, unlike mammals, are not sensitive to capsaicin, because this drug acts on a specific nerve receptor that birds do not possess. A reason for this the peppers are a favorite food of many birds, they also provide a source of vitamin C and carotene, needed by birds especially during moulting plumage. In return, the birds spread the seeds of the plant and while consuming the fruits, either through the feces, since these seeds able to pass through the digestive system unchanged. It is believed that this relationship has promoted the evolution of the protective capsaicin. Finally, it is interesting to note that chemicals used to give a flavor of grape beverages such as "grape soda (fizzy drink flavored grapes) in birds give an effect similar to that capsaicin given to humans.

Medical Aspects

 For the presence of two allergenic proteins (Cap 1; Cap a 2), the pepper can cause severe food allergy also


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    • profile image

      lila june 

      7 years ago

      I know that cayenne pepper is a cure all! It will get rid of ulcers and if you take it every day you will never have a heart attack. If you have a bleeding wound it will stop the bleeding immediately if you put it on the wound.

    • profile image

      Druid Dude 

      7 years ago

      Mongo like peppers...Mongo like HOT! My all time fav is the Jalapeno (and the standard sweet peppers), but, my 14 yr old daughter and I used to garnish our spaghetti plates w/ a habanero, consumed piece by piece thru out the meal. Mmmmm. We both have long ago ceased w/ that. She's petite and feminine...but when it comes to peppers, she's every bit a man as her daddy!LOL

    • daffodil2010 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      dear fay paxton,

      thanks for your comment. i like your hubs

    • profile image

      Fay Paxton 

      7 years ago

      Rated up and useful. Capsicum is excellent with lots of benefits.

    • daffodil2010 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      thank you simone i am trying to do my best thanks for your attention

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Whoah- I've learned a ton from this Hub! Capsicum ROCKS! Heck, you could publish a mini book with all this info. Rated up, useful, and awesome!

    • daffodil2010 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      my mother is an adict of hot pepper so i am too

    • daffodil2010 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      :D thanks for your comments

    • breakfastpop profile image


      7 years ago

      I love hot peppers, but I once used a rub on my back with capsicum in it and I flew around the room!

    • howcurecancer profile image


      7 years ago

      I like hot peppers in each dinner.


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