CAPSICUM annuum( Conoides Group)
Plant Common Name
Cone Pepper, Ornamental Pepper
The colorful fruits of the cone pepper are invaluable in cuisines across the globe and attractive enough for plants to be used as ornamentals. The plants usually have erect, conical fruits that appear singly and not in clusters. Care must be taken with plants grown at nurseries for ornamental purposes; they may have been treated with pesticides or other chemicals not suitable for edible plants. Native to the tropical Americas, peppers are warm season annuals that have been grown and selected by Native Americans since pre-history times.
Cone peppers are bushy well-branched plants with rigid, brittle stems and thin, often broad, dark green leaves. Their flowers are inconspicuous, five-petaled, white, yellow or purple and give way to cone-shaped peppers. They may be harvested green or allowed to mature to full color. Mature cone peppers are often red but can also turn to orange, yellow, black or purple, depending on the selection. On the interior they are divided by spongy ribbing which supports many small, flattened, rounded seeds.
Cone pepper fruits are often hot; young green fruits are sharper tasting and mature are sweeter. Their heat is produced by a chemical called capsaicin measured in Scoville units against the Scoville scale. The purer the capsaicin, the hotter the pepper and the higher the Scoville rating. Most of the heat comes from the pithy ribs, inner lining and seeds of the pepper, so keep this in mind when cooking with them.
Peppers are warm season vegetables that are easy to grow, if you can provide them with the correct growing conditions. Full sun and warmth, fertile, perfectly drained soil and regular feeding are required for good growth and fruit production. Peppers generally take 60 to 90 days to harvest. Some vascular wilts, tobacco mosaic virus and fungal problems can befall them, but overall they are not needy. Proper spacing will keep diseases at bay and help with fruit production, so plant according to the grower’s guidelines.
These peppers are ornamental too; enjoy them as bedding or container plants as well as vegetable garden standards.
For more information about the Scoville Scale see http://www.chilliworld.com/FactFile/Scoville_Scale.asp