James H. Schutte
CAPSICUM annuum( Fasciculatum Group, STARBURST SERIES)
Plant Common Name
Peppers in the Starburst Series are compact and have colorful mature fruits of bright golden yellow or tangerine orange. Distinguished by their erect clusters of conical fruits, cultivated peppers in the fasciculatum group are typically grown for their ornamental value and come in shades of red, yellow, orange or purple. Peppers originate from the tropical Americas, so they are well adapted to heat, humidity and some drought. They are annuals that produce bushy plants with rigid, brittle stems and thin, often broad, dark green leaves. Their flowers are inconspicuous, five-petaled and white.
The upright, conical peppers of plants in this group tend to be smaller and have a spicy flavor. Fruits are green when immature but turn shades of red, orange, yellow, purple, or near ivory, depending on the selection. On the interior they are lined with spongy ribbing which supports many small, flattened, rounded seeds. The majority of the fruit’s heat comes from the inner lining, so cook peppers whole if you want to impart their flavor without adding any spice.
Green fruits have a sharper taste and mature are sweeter. The heat is produced by a chemical called capsaicin, which is measured in scaled units called Scoville units. The purer the capsaicin the hotter the pepper and higher the Scoville rating. The pepper’s seeds and inner lining carry more heat than the flesh of the fruit.
Peppers are warm season vegetables that are easy to grow if provided full sun, warmth and fertile, perfectly drained soil. Regular feeding is 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.
Peppers can be ornamental too, so enjoy them as bedding or container plants as well as vegetable garden standbys.
Scoville Scale: http://www.chilliworld.com/FactFile/Scoville_Scale.asp