James H. Schutte
CAPSICUM annuum 'Fish'( Longum Group)
Plant Common Name
Fish Ornamental Pepper, Ornamental Pepper
Red-hot, multi-colored fruits and variegated foliage are among the ornamental and culinary attributes of this heirloom pepper. It originated in the late nineteenth century in the Chesapeake Bay region, where it was prized as a flavoring for seafood stews and chowders. African-American smallholder farmers were among the chief growers of this variety.
Like many hot peppers, 'Fish' is a member of the Longum group, which encompasses poblanos, serranos, jalapenos, cayenne peppers and various other chilis. These annual vegetables descend from varieties that were grown and selected by Native Americans for thousands of years.
The bushy, knee-high plants bear thin, oval, heavily variegated leaves on stiff brittle stems. Inconspicuous white flowers appear in warm weather, followed by pendent, narrowly conical, often crescent-shaped fruits with crisp pungently flavored flesh. The green, cream-striped peppers turn orange and then red as they mature. The hollow, chambered interior is divided by spongy ribbing which supports many small, flattened, rounded seeds, which are hotter than the fruit's flesh. Fruits may be harvested green or allowed to mature to full color.
This heirloom pepper grows easily in favorable conditions. Full sun, warmth, ample spacing, and fertile well-drained soil are required for good growth and fruit production. It also makes an ornamental and flavorful addition to container plantings. Harvest of green 'Fish' peppers begins about 60 days after seedlings are planted, with fruits maturing to red about 15 days later. Harvest continues until hard frost, or into winter in frost-free conditions. Vascular wilts and fungal diseases can be a problem in subpar conditions. Pinch off early flower buds to encourage stronger branching and roots. Heavily fruiting plants may break apart under the weight if not staked for support. Harvest ripe fruit daily to encourage new blossoms to form. This hot pepper is delicious (but spicy) in sauces and stews.
Hot peppers get their heat from the compound capsaicin – the higher its concentration, the hotter the pepper. Capsaicin concentration is measured and expressed in Scoville units. The Scoville rating of 'Fish' is 40,000 to 70,000 units. For more information about the Scoville Scale see http://www.chilliworld.com/FactFile/Scoville_Scale.asp