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Capsicum frutescens - L.                
                 
Common Name Tabasco Pepper, Cayenne pepper
Family Solanaceae
Synonyms C. baccatum. C. minimum.
Known Hazards Although no reports have been seen for this species, many plants in this family produce toxins in their leaves. The sap of the plant can cause the skin to blister[200]. Avoid in patients taking monoamine oxidase inhibitor antidepressants and antihypertensive drugs [301].
Habitats Not known in the wild.
Range Probably native of the Tropics, but the original habitat is obscure.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Half Hardy Moist Soil Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Capsicum frutescens is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.6 m (2ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9 and is frost tender. It is in flower from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)

USDA hardiness zone : Coming soon


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Capsicum frutescens Tabasco Pepper,  Cayenne pepper


Capsicum frutescens Tabasco Pepper,  Cayenne pepper
   
Habitats       
 Cultivated Beds; South Wall. By. West Wall. By.
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Fruit;  Leaves.
Edible Uses: Condiment.

Fruit - raw or cooked[34, 46, 132]. Very hot and normally used as a flavouring[183]. The fruit can be dried and ground into a powder for use as a flavouring[142]. The fruit is up to 7.5cm long and 1cm wide[200]. Seed - dried, ground and used as a pepper[2]. Leaves - cooked as a potherb[183]. Some caution is advised, see note at top of the page.
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anaesthetic;  Antihaemorrhoidal;  Antirheumatic;  Antiseptic;  Carminative;  Diaphoretic;  Digestive;  Irritant;  Rubefacient;  Sialagogue;  Stimulant;  
Stomachic.

The dried fruit is a powerful local stimulant with no narcotic effect, it is most useful in atony of the intestines and stomach[4]. It has proved efficacious in dilating blood vessels and thus relieving chronic congestion of people addicted to drink[4]. It is sometimes used as a tonic and is said to be unequalled in warding off disease[4] (probably due to the high vitamin C content[K]). Some caution should be employed, however, since large doses are extremely irritating to the gastro-intestinal system[268]. Used externally, the fruit is a strong rubefacient stimulating the circulation, aiding the removal of waste products and increasing the flow of nutrients to the tissues[254]. It is applied as a cataplasm or liniment[4]. It has also been powdered and placed inside socks as a traditional remedy for those prone to cold feet[254]. A weak infusion can be used as a gargle to treat throat complaints[268]. The fruit is also antihaemorrhoidal, antirheumatic, antiseptic, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, sialagogue and stomachic[7, 165, 171]. These pungent fruited peppers are important in the tropics as gastrointestinal detoxifiers and food preservatives[238]. The fruits contain 0.1 - 1.5% capsaicin[254]. This substance stimulates the circulation and alters temperature regulation. Applied to the skin it desensitizes nerve endings and so has been used as a local anaesthetic[254]. The seed contains capsicidins[254]. These are thought to have antibiotic properties[254]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Capsicum for muscular tension, rheumatism (see [302] for critics of commission E).
Other Uses
Repellent.

The growing plant repels insects[20].
Cultivation details                                         
Requires a very warm sunny position and a fertile well-drained soil. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.3 to 8.3. This species is a frost-tender perennial that is usually cultivated as an annual[34, 61]. It does not commonly do well outdoors in an average British summer and it is usually grown in a greenhouse in this country[1]. However, if a very warm sheltered position outdoors is chosen then reasonable crops could be obtained in good summers. Widely grown throughout the world, but especially in warm temperate to tropical climates for its edible fruit, tabasco peppers. There are many named varieties[132]. The growing plant is a good companion for aubergines[20].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - sow late winter to early spring in a warm greenhouse[138]. The seed usually germinates in 3 - 4 weeks at 20°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots of reasonably rich soil and grow them on fast. If trying them outdoors, then plant them out after the last expected frosts and give them the protection of a cloche or frame at least until they are established and growing away well.
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
L.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
200
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[7]Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
[20]Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Fairly good.
[34]Harrison. S. Wallis. M. Masefield. G. The Oxford Book of Food Plants.
Good drawings of some of the more common food plants from around the world. Not much information though.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[132]Bianchini. F., Corbetta. F. and Pistoia. M. Fruits of the Earth.
Lovely pictures, a very readable book.
[138]Bird. R. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 3.
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation.
[142]Brouk. B. Plants Consumed by Man.
Readable but not very comprehensive.
[165]Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism.
An excellent small herbal.
[171]Hill. A. F. Economic Botany.
Not very comprehensive, but it is quite readable and goes into some a bit of detail about the plants it does cover.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[238]Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
[254]Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
[268]Stuart. M. (Editor) The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism
Excellent herbal with good concise information on over 400 herbs.
[301]Karalliedde. L. and Gawarammana. I. Traditional Herbal Medicines
A guide to the safer use of herbal medicines.
[302]From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Commission E
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commission_E

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
donovan Sat Jun 28 2008
Science investigatory project is about making an alternative antiseptic with capsicum frutescens as it's main material
Elizabeth H.
Rochelle Mon Nov 2 2009
What are the nutrients of Hot pepper leaves??
Wendy H.
Jun 6 2012 12:00AM
This is the piri piri pepper grown widely in Portugal where I grow it very successfully every year. Makes excellent chilli jam and pepper sauces. One of the annual must-grows in our garden.
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