More on Identifying Chillies

Identification through flowers

Have you ever bought seeds and then found that the Chilli, when fully grown, is not what you thought it would be? This has happened to me on several occasions now. It would seem that it is not that uncommon. I am not sure how it happens. Maybe some seed suppliers sometimes just get it wrong?

Just recently I had a case in point. In a previous post, I mentioned that I have placed a couple of my smaller Chilli plants under grow light lights to find out if this would help ripen the fruit. The plants were chosen for their size. They had to be small enough to fit under the lights. I chose a Barak Chilli and another that fitted the bill in terms of size. The latter falls into the category mentioned above. I need to try and identify it .

Flowers are the key

Chilli plant flowers on Capsicum Frutscens

What Chilli species?

It was while trying to identify this Chilli that it dawned on me just how important flowers are in the identification of Chillies. The key to starting the identification process lies in the plant’s flowers. To make identifying Chillies easier, in the future, I thought it would be useful to group the flowers of the various species in one place. And here it is!

While there are many species of Chillies, the ones you are most likely to run into in growing Chillies is one of the five domesticated Chillies. The domesticated Chillies fit into the following species

Capsicum Baccatum

Chilli plant flowers on Capsicum baccatum

The Aji family

Chillies that fall into this species include the Aji Amarillo, Aji Limone (Lemon drop Chilli), Bishop’s Crown, and the White wax (Aji Crystal). These Chillies are widely grown in BoliviaColombiaEcuador, Peru and Chile, where they are the preferred domesticated Chilli. These Chillies are fairly pungent, with Scoville rating in the 30000 to 50000 range. They typically have a citrus flavour

The Chilli pant  flowers of this species are very distinctive. This makes it one of the easiest species to identify. The Chili plants flower’s  petals are white to cream. Their corollas have dark green, yellow, or brown spots at the base.

The Aji Crystal ( aka the White wax Chilli for example) has flowers that are cream and about an inch wide. The flower has six petals.  The inside of these petals (corollas) are golden. The flower stands erect on the plant (point upwards). The ovaries of the plant are greenish/ yellow. Its filaments are yellowish with brown anthers. The style is white with a brown stigma

Capsicum Pubescence

Pretty in purple

Another Chilli that is reasonably easy to identify because it distinctive purple flowers T While some Chillies like the Bolivian Rainbow (which falls under Capsicum Annuum), also have this trait, the flowers of this species are very different. They can easily be told apart.Chilli plant flowers on Capsicum Pubascens

The most well-known Chilli that belongs to Capsicum Pubescens is the Rocoto Chilli. It is widely cultivated in Peru and Bolivia, where it originated. There  are  a variety of cultivars, including the brown rocoto, rocoto Canario ( yellow), Rocoto de Seda, Rocoto Largo San Isidro, Rocoto Roja (red), orange Rocoto, and the white Rocoto.  These cultivars come in a variety of shapes, including resembling apples and pears.

The Chiili plants flowers appear singly or in pairs. Sometimes (although rarely) up to four flowers can be found on a single node. Its corollas are purple and can be white at the base.  This white base can have yellow spots. Its filaments can be white and its anthers light brown with dark spots. The flower has a calyx with five pointed teeth.  The flowers of this species are strikingly beautiful

Capscium Chinense

Hot Stuff

Chillies that fall into this category are generally pungent. They include Scotch bonnets, Madame Jeanettes, Ghost Chillies, Fataliis, Habaneros, Trinidad Scorpion Butch T,s, Hainan yellow lanterns and the Carolina Reaper (officially the world’s hottest Chilli). Their Scoville rating range is from 50000 to well over a million SHU – as in the Carolina reaper. The Carolina reaper has a heat rating of approximately 1.6 million SHU.  These Chillies are widely grown in Mexico, the Caribbean, India, the USA and China.

Their flower corollas (petals) are white. The anthers and filaments are purple. The Chilli plant flowers are star shaped and small. It normally has six petals rays. Some believe C Frutscens was the ancestor of C Chinense. Some even go as saying that C Chinense should not be categorised separately  from  C Frutescens This is borne out in the similarity of the purple colour of their anthers. Although not always correct, C Chinense can sometimes be distinguished from C annuum by the number  flowers they develop per node. In the case of C Chinense, two to five flowers can be found. For Capsicum annuum, normally only one flower develops.

Capsicum Frutsense

Upward facing

One of the most distinguishing characteristics about this Chilli is that, in many instances, its pods face upwards. While this trait can also be found in Capsicum Annuum with Chillies like the Mirasol Chilli and the Santaka are definitely found more often in Capsicum Frutescence.

Chillies like African devils, Tabascos, Malaguetas, Birds Eye, Xiaomila peppers and Siling labuyo fall under this heading. Thai Birds eye Chillies are often confused as being from this species. They are in fact from the Caspicum annuum species.

This species of Chilli plant flowers have green/white corollas with no spots. They have purple anthers and filaments.   The African devil’s flowers match this description. It has green/white flowers with five petals. In line with other varieties from this species, its anthers are purple. size of the flowers is in the region of just over half an inch in width,

Capsicum Annuum

Mr Average

This species contains the widest range of Chillies. The wide variety makes identifying a specific variety more difficult. The species includes, Jalapenos, Poblanos, Hidalgos, Cayennes, Purple Tigers, Chiltepin, Serrano Chillies, Paprika, Longhorn F1 , Anaheims,Bolivian Rainbows, Anchos, Banana peppers, Chile de árbol, Thai birds-eye and many more.

These Chillies are the most cultivated species in the world. Between China. India and Mexico millions of tonnes are grown every year.  The varieties that top the list in terms of tonnage grown are the Guntur Sannam and Tien Tsin peppers.  Other  popular Chillies falling under this species that are widely grown around the world include Bell peppers, Jalapenos and Caaynne Chillies .

The flowers of Chillies that fall under this species are typically white. The flowers may also be greenish white. A few varieties have purple flowers. The shape of the Chilli plant flowers are star or bell shaped. Each flower has four to five petals. The flowers get no bigger than one inch. Many plants that fall into this species have small flowers The flowers normally hang down (are pendant). Their anthers may be blue to purple

Image credits

Joe Thomissen / CC BY NC 2.0 /via  Flickr

Quinn Dombrowski  / CC BY SA 2.0 /via  Flickr

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