Bolivian Rainbow (capsicum annuum)
Purple-veined foliage. Peppers are tear-drop shaped, maturing from purple to yellow to orange to red. Bears early and prolifically.
Good container plant. "Super hot", "very hot". Seed Source:Pepper Joe, $2.99/15. Author's Notes: These are by far the most attention-getting variety of chile pepper I have ever grown. Flowers: small (1/2" to 3/4" across), with 5-6 light purple corollas that show no spots but are white in color at their base. Anthers are teal to true blue in color and the filaments are purple.
Fruit: very numerous (average 218 per plant), erect, teardrop-shaped, non-deciduous, with ends ranging from pointed (typical) to rounded, typically 1/2 to 3/4" in length. Purple when immature, ripening to yellow, then orange, then red, with all colors showing randomly on the plant at the same time. An occasional fruit can vary in shape so far as to be spherical. Fruit set
exclusively at nodes and branching points; sometimes two or more peppers will grow at the same node. Very hot, I would place it somewhere between a very hot Cayenne and a Tabasco. Leaves: small (average first year leaf about 2 3/4" long by 1 1/4" wide), long-pointed or lanceolate, toothless, dark green with some purple spotting.
The larger veins and the midrib are typically purple as is the underside of the leafstalk. Habit: very compact. Plants grew to about 18" in an 8" standard clay pot (first season). Branching is frequent and symmetrical, the net result being a plant that is shaped more like an inverted pyramid than a sphere. General:
This variety seems to make a very good container plant, and seems to have toughness and hardiness typical of a pepper plant.
Charleston Hot (capsicum annuum)
A hotter, more compact variety of Cayenne developed by Phil Dukes in Charleston, SC. Plants are typically 15 inches high, compared to two to three feet for a typical Cayenne.
Pods are thin and about 4 inches long, maturing from yellow-green to yellow to orange to red. 70,000 to 80,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), compared to 30,000 to 50,000 SHU for a typical Cayenne. Pepper Joe says his Charleston Hot seeds
are the offspring of seeds received directly from Phil Dukes. Seed Source:Pepper Joe, $3.99/15. Author's Comments: I always grow some type of Cayenne pepper; the Charleston Hot was my choice of Cayenne for this year. Overall, they grew well and produced well. One interesting thing about this variety is that it produces lobe-ended pods, where all the other Cayenne varieties I have grown have produced pointed pods. The more complex color change is a bonus, as is the extra heat. I noticed that the Charlestons' leaves tended to yellow (as if the plants needed nitrogen) between
the periodic plant food feedings, where none of the other Capsicum plants would ever show this distress. While reading the Tough Love Chile Company's catalog preparatory to planning the 2001 pepper garden, I noticed that they say that the Charleston variety "is a heavy user of Nitrogen, so feed it more often"; that explains that.
Cubanelle (capsicum annuum)
A variety of the Cuban type. Plants are typically 2 to 3 feet tall. Peppers are pendant and about 6 inches long, maturing from yellow to red. No pungency. Typical yield 12 or more peppers per plant. Seed Source: Reader-contributed seeds Author's Comments: Cubanelles are supposed to be very good when fried. Pods are lobed, which makes these peppers readily distinguishable from New Mexican varieties (which they otherwise resemble).
Jalapeno (capsicum annuum)
70 to 80 days to maturity. Plants are typically 2 1/2 to 3 feet tall. Peppers are pendant and 3" long and 1 1/2" wide, maturing from green to red. 2500 to 10,000 SHU. Typical yield 25 to 35 peppers per plant. "medium to hot flavor". Seed Source: Seeds Unique, $1.50/150. Author's Comments: The Jalapeno is my general purpose chile of choice in the kitchen.
NuMex Big Jim (capsicum annuum)
80 days to maturity. Plants are typically 20 to 30 inches tall. Peppers are pendant and up to 12 inches long, maturing from green to red. About 2500 SHU. Typical yield 10 to 20 peppers per plant. Developed in 1975 by Roy Nakayama.
Produces longer peppers than any other variety of chile plant. Seed Source: Seeds Unique, $1.75/50.
Reader-contributed seeds Author's Comments: This is my second year growing New Mexican peppers. Since I used so many of them for cooking last season, I decided that I would try a variety with
a larger pod type this year.
Pasilla Bajio (capsicum annuum)
Pasilla is Spanish for "little raisin". 90 or more days to maturity. Plants may grow to 3 feet tall. Peppers are pendant and 6 to 12 inches long and 1 inch wide, maturing from dark green to dark brown. 1000 to 2500 SHU. May produce 20 or more peppers per plant. Peppers should be
allowed to dry on the plant; dried Pasillas are used in mole sauces. "fairly mild". Seed Source: Reader-contributed seeds
Scotch Bonnet (capsicum chinense)
The Jamaican equivalent of the Mexican Habanero. Capsicum chinense tend to germinate slowly, grow slowly, and do best in humid areas with warm nights.
80 to 120 days to maturity (or more depending on environment). Plants are typically 2 feet tall in US gardens. Peppers mature from green to yellow or red. Yield varies dramatically with environment. "Very pungent". Seed Source: Reader-contributed seeds Author's Comments:Flowers: small (1/2" to 3/4" across), with 5-6 white corollas (no spots). Anthers are light sea-green in color and the filaments are white. Fruit: pendant, campanulate (bell-shaped), non-deciduous. Averaged 40 per plant. Some fruit have elongated pointed ends, others do not.
Fruit drop in clusters at nodes, typically 3-6 fruit at a given node at the same time. Green when immature, ripen to orange. Extremely hot. Typically 1 1/4 to 1 3/4" long. Leaves: large, medium-green, ovate, toothless. Average first year leaf 3-4" long by 1 3/4 - 2 1/4" wide, some will be much larger than this. Habit:
normal, erect habit. Plants grew to about 20" in an 8" standard clay pot (first season). General: This variety did well in partial sun as a container plant; these are the best results I've ever obtained with a variety of Capsicum chinense. These plants seemed to have toughness typical of a pepper plant, but
were notably less cold-hardy than the average pepper plant. Also, in general, I have found that Capsicum chinense do not do well in hot, dry, full-sun conditions.
Tepin (capsicum annuum)
A generic type of wild or domesticated pepper of the Piquin group. Pods of the Piquin group range from erect and spherical to pendant and elongate (up to 2 inches long), maturing from green or black
to red. 50,000 to 100,000 SHU. The chiltepin, a wild type of Piquin, is generally considered to be the closest surviving relative to the capsicum annuums that originally populated South America prior to the presence of mankind
in the Americas. Piquins are noted as taking longer to germinate than most other types of peppers, and as being well-suited to being grown in containers as perennials. Seed Source: Reader-contributed seeds Author's Comments:Fruit: very numerous (average 313 per plant), erect, spherical, deciduous. Fruit occur only at nodes and branching points, generally one fruit per node but occasionally two. Mature from green to red. Very hot; heat is a cloying, overpowering, long-lived sensation that covers the entire mouth. Typically about a third of an inch in diameter.
Leaves: small, medium to dark green, egg-shaped with concavely tapered point, toothless. Average first year leaf 1 1/2" long by 1" wide. Habit: By far the most unusual, tree-like habit of any pepper plant I've ever grown. These plants grew to about 2/3 of their final height before branching at all; this is
about two to four times the height to which a 'typical' Capsicum annuum will grow before branching under my indoor lighting conditions, which promote bush-like, compact growth (fluorescent lights 1-2" above plants). On each plant, once the main stem branched, subsequent branching at the top of the plant was incredibly regular and symmetrical, producing a fractalian canopy of growth
at the top of the plant. Eventually secondary growth did begin to branch off of lower portions of the main stems; these secondary growths invariably consisted of a single branch that again grew out a considerable distance before it began to branch in the regular and symmetrical manner characteristic of these plants. Plants grew to about 3' in an 8" standard clay pot (first season).
General: This variety did well in partial sun as a container plant. Hardiness was typical of a pepper plant, but toughness was exteremly poor; these plants were by far the most delicate, fragile Capsicum plants that I have ever grown just bumping in to one of these plants will break some of the smaller branches, so harvesting required great care. These plants were the first
to require support, because of their tree-like habit.
Yellow Corno de Toro (capsicum annuum)
AKA Italian Frying pepper. Corno de Toro is Italian for "bull horn". Peppers are pendant and about 6 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide, maturing from green to yellow. "Non-pungent". Seed Source: Reader-contributed seeds Author's Comments:
Unidentified ex-Soviet Pepper (capsicum unknown)
These are descended from peppers originally brought to the US from the former Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan. In 1999, I grew ex-Soviets from seeds from the second US-grown generation. This winter, I obtained some seeds from the first US-grown generation (1994); no other peppers were grown in the garden during 1994, so there should not
have been any cross-pollination. I am going to see if these old seeds will germinate; if not, I will grow from the same seeds I grew from in 1999. Peppers are 1 1/2" to 2" long and change from green to red as they ripen. Blisteringly hot.
Author's Comments: These seeds had a 0% germination rate, so it looks like the remaining seed stock from the second US-grown generation is the oldest viable stock I have.
Last updated 31 January 2015.
(c) 1999-2016 Mike Whittemore
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