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Capsicum chinense - Jacq.

Common Name Bonnet Pepper, Chinese capsicum
Family Solanaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats A tropical plant.
Range Western S. America - Brazil to the West Indies.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Capsicum chinense Bonnet Pepper, Chinese capsicum

Alex Lomas wikimedia.org
Capsicum chinense Bonnet Pepper, Chinese capsicum


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Native to Central America and grown as vegetable, Bonnet Pepper or Capsicum chinense is a tropical herb that is 70-80 cm tall. It has various varieties that are known for their extraordinary heat and flavour. The leaves are compound with each leaf composed of 3 leaflets. The flowers found in the axils of leaves. They are white and occur singly or in clusters of two. The fruit is used as a flavouring and spice. It has tonic and antiseptic properties. It increases perspiration, reduces pain sensitivity, and stimulates the circulatory and digestive systems. It is further used against fevers, varicose veins, asthma, sprains, etc. Other common names are yellow lantern chili and squash pepper, Aji, Aji dulce, Ati, Habanero, Scotch Bonnet peppers,

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Capsicum chinense is an evergreen Shrub growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 1.5 m (5ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Capsicum sinense Murray Capsicum toxicarium Poepp. ex Fingerh.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit
Edible Uses: Condiment

The extremely hot and pungent fruits are commonly used as a flavouring in savoury dishes[ 301 ]. Well known for their exceptional heat and unique flavor. The fruits vary in size and shape, ranging from 6mm in diameter, smooth and rounded, to wrinkled and elongated and up to 10cm long[ 418 ]

References   More on Edible Uses

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.
Antiasthmatic  Antiseptic  Diaphoretic  Digestive  Febrifuge  Tonic

The pungent fruit has tonic and antiseptic properties, stimulates the circulatory and digestive systems and increases perspiration[ 238 ]. It also irritates the tissues, increasing blood supply to the area and reducing sensitivity to pain[ 238 ]. It is taken internally in the treatment of the cold stage of fevers, debility in convalescence or old age, varicose veins, asthma and digestive problems[ 238 ]. Externally it is used in the treatment of sprains, unbroken chilblains, neuralgia, pleurisy etc[ 238 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Can be used as an ornamental for their bright colourful fruit.

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

The plant is often cultivated as an annual in the tropics and subtropics. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 26°c, but can tolerate 15 - 32°c[ 418 ]. It is not tolerant of frosts[ K ]. It succeeds with a mean annual rainfall in the range 600 - 1,250mm, but tolerates 500 - 1,500mm[ 418 ]. Requires a very warm sunny position and a humus-rich, fertile, well-drained loam[ 300 ]. Prefers a light sandy soil that is slightly acid[ 201 ]. Prefers a pH in the range of 5.5 - 5.6[ 300 ], but tolerates 4.3 to 8.3. Another report says that it prefers a pH in the range 6 - 6.5, tolerating 5.3 - 7[ 418 ]. When grown as an annual, the plant takes 120 - 150 days from sowing to first harvest of the fruit[ 418 ]. There are many named varieties[ 301 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed. In cooler climates, Capsicum chinense does not usually survive the winter. However, it will readily germinate from the previous year's seed in the following growing season.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Bonnet Pepper or Capsicum chinense. Other common names are yellow lantern chili and squash pepper. Other Names: Aji, Aji dulce, Ati, Habanero, Scotch Bonnet peppers, Squash pepper, Yellow lantern chili

SOUTHERN AMERICA: Bolivia, Brazil North, Peru,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Capsicum annuumSweet Pepper, Cayenne Pepper, Chili Pepper, Christmas Pepper, Red Pepper, Ornamental Chili PepperPerennial1.0 10-11 MLMHNM432
Capsicum baccatumLocoto, AjiPerennial2.0 8-11  LMHNM331
Capsicum frutescensTabasco Pepper, Cayenne pepperPerennial1.0 8-11  LMHNM341
Capsicum pubescensTree Pepper, RocotoPerennial3.0 8-11  LMHNM331

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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