Articles

Capsicum annuum L.

Capsicum annuum L.

Family

Solanaceae

Synonyms

None

Vernacular Names

Malaysia  Cili, cili padi, cili api, cili sayur.
English  Capsicum pepper, chilli, bird pepper, bird's eye chilli.
Indonesia  Lombok, cabai, cabai keriting, cabai rawit, cabai besar.
Papua New Guinea  Kapsikam, lombo.
Philippines  Sili, pasete.
Cambodia  Mo-tééhs phlaôk, mo-tééhs khmeang.
Laos  Ph'ik, phéd.
Thailand  Phrik.
Vietnam  [ows]t.
American  Hot pepper, chile, paprika, sweet pepper, bird pepper.
French Piment, poivron.

Geographical Distributions

The genus of Capsicum is a new world origin. It comprises of 5 domesticated and about 25 wild species. Mexico is believed to be the centre of origin of Capsicum annuum, whereas C. frutescens and the other cultivated species (C. baccatum L. var. pendulum (Willd.) Eshbaugh, C. chinense Jacq., and C. pubescens Ruiz & Pavón) are originated in South America. Capsicum peppers were introduced to Asia in the 16th Century by Portuguese and Spanish explorers via trade routes from South America. Widespread geographic distribution of C. annuum and C. frutescens has occurred on all continents, whereas the others are little distributed outside South America. Capsicum peppers are cultivated throughout Southeast Asia where the pungent forms having the greatest distribution and importance.

Description

C. annuum is very variable, normally as an annual herb or subshrub that can reach up to 0.5-1.5 m tall, erect, much branched and grown as an annual. The taproot is strong while the lateral roots are numerous.

The stem is irregularly angular to subterete, measuring up to 1 cm in diametre, much branched, often hairy near the branchings, green to brown-green and often with purplish spots near the nodes.

The leaves are arranged alternately, simple and very variable. The petiole is up to 10 cm long. The leaf-blade is ovate, measuring up to 10(-16) cm x 5(-8) cm, acuminate at the apex, usually entire at the margin, nearly hairless and light to dark green.

The flowers are usually borne singly and terminal. The pedicel measures up to 3 cm long in flower and measures up to 8 cm long in fruit. The sepal is cup-shaped, persistent and enlarged in fruit. It is usually with 5 conspicuous teeth. The petal is bell-shaped to rotate, with 5-7 lobes, measuring 8-15 mm in diametre and it is usually white. There are 5-7 stamens and with a pale blue to purplish anther. The ovary is 2(-4)-locular, with a slender style is white or purplish and with a headed stigma.

The fruit is a non-pulpy berry, very variable in size, shape, colour, and degree of pungency. It is usually more or less conical, measures up to 30 cm long, green, yellow, cream or purplish when immature and red, orange, yellow and brown when mature.

The seed is pale yellow orbicular, flattened, measuring 3-4.5 mm in diametre and measures about 1 mm thick.

Ecology / Cultivation

C. annuum is considered to be a warm season, day-neutral plants, although certain forms may show a photoperiodic reaction. The vegetative cycle may be hastened by imposing certain photoperiods, but reports in the literature are conflicting. C. annuum tends to tolerate with the shade conditions up to 45% of prevailing solar radiation, although the shade may delay flowering. C. annuum grows best on well-drained loamy soils at pH 5.5-6.8. It grows at a wide range of altitudes, with rainfall between 600-1250 mm. The severe flooding or drought is injurious to most cultivars. The seeds germinate best at 25-30°C. The optimal temperatures for productivity are between 18-30°C. The cooler night temperatures down to 15°C favour fruit setting, although flowering will be delayed as temperatures drop below 25°C. The flower buds usually abort rather than develop to maturity if the night temperatures reach 30°C. The pollen viability is significantly reduced at temperatures above 30°C and below 15°C.

Line Drawing / Photograph

Capsicum_annuum

References

  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 8: Vegetables.