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Capsicum frutescens - L.

Common Name Tabasco Pepper, Cayenne pepper
Family Solanaceae
USDA hardiness 8-11
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    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care
Half Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Capsicum frutescens Tabasco Pepper,  Cayenne pepper


Capsicum frutescens Tabasco Pepper,  Cayenne pepper

 

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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 August to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
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.

Synonyms

C. baccatum. C. minimum.

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



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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].

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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.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

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.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Capsicum annuumSweet Pepper, Cayenne Pepper, Chili Pepper, Christmas Pepper, Red Pepper, Ornamental Chili Pepper43
Capsicum baccatumLocoto, Aji33
Capsicum chinenseBonnet Pepper, Chinese capsicum34
Capsicum pubescensTree Pepper, Rocoto33

 

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Expert comment

Author

L.

Botanical References

200

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

donovan   Sat Jun 28 2008

Science investigatory project is about making an alternative antiseptic with capsicum frutescens as it's main material

Rochelle   Mon Nov 2 2009

What are the nutrients of Hot pepper leaves??

   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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