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CAPSICUM frutescens

Image of Capsicum frutescens

James H. Schutte

Family

Solanaceae

Botanical Name

CAPSICUM frutescens

Plant Common Name

Tabasco Pepper

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

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.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 7

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    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

  • Plant Type

    Tender Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    28"-54" / 71.1cm - 137.2cm

  • Width

    2'-5' / 0.6m - 1.5m

  • Bloom Time

    Indeterminate

  • Native To

    Central America, South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    White, Light Green

  • Fruit Color

    Yellow, Red, Orange, Dark Red, Light Green

  • Fruit Color Modifier

    Multi-Color

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Edible, Herb / Vegetable, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes