Helping You Become a More Successful Gardener
James H. Schutte
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Very hot, spicy and colorful fruits are produced on tabasco pepper plants. The small fruits are usually held upright on the leafy branches. The fruits and seeds of these peppers are dried and roasted and then pulverized to make cayenne pepper spice, however any dried red pepper (regardless of species) today is colloquially known as a cayenne pepper. Although many tabasco or cayenne peppers in modern domestication may be botanically classified in the Longum group of species Capsicum annuum, the precise genetics are muddy. Pepper plants readily hybridize with each other and thousands of hybrids exist in gardens all around the world.
The tabasco pepper is believed to have origins in northern South America, with native peoples domesticating it centuries ago and widely cultivating it farther north in Central America. It is a tropical subshrub that is evergreen, but often grown as a herbaceous warm-season annual. The glossy green, oval leaves cover the branching plant. Small white to pale green flowers occur during the warm months. Small, narrow, pointed fruits develop after insect pollination. Fruits are initially pale green but turn yellow to orange and finally some shade of red at maturity. Tabasco peppers are rich in capsaicin, the compound that makes their seeds and flesh taste so hot. The hotness is measured in scaled units called Scoville units (Scoville Scale: http://www.chilliworld.com/FactFile/Scoville_Scale.asp). 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.
Grow tabasco pepper in full sun and a fertile, moist but well-drained soil enriched with organic matter. Grow it in the vegetable patch, sowing seeds or transplanting seedlings only after the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed significantly. Pepper plants relish heat and humidity, and demonstrate some drought tolerance.
12 - 7
10 - 15
A1, A2, A3, H1, H2, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Full Sun, Partial Sun
28"-54" / 71.1cm - 137.2cm
2'-5' / 0.6m - 1.5m
Central America, South America
Spring, Summer, Fall
White, Light Green
Yellow, Red, Orange, Dark Red, Light Green
Edible, Herb / Vegetable, Tropical
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