Capsicum Frutescens: Tabasco And More

| Last Updated: September 5, 2019 |

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Characteristics of Capsicum Frutescens

Of the five domesticated Capsicum species, Frutescens is one of the easiest to identify. This particular species shows very little variation in the appearance of the pods, which are often produced in clusters.

Typically, the pods are small and tend to have an ellipsoid-conical shape. Frutescens plants are compact with short stubby growth and a large number of flowers, making them an ideal choice for container gardening.

Most often, the stem of this species grows straight up throughout the plant, curving suddenly just before reaching the flower head.

This species makes a wonderful ornamental pepper plant due to the clusters of pods that grow just above the foliage at a total height of about one to four feet. The white flowers have greenish corollas and tend to be quite symmetrical in terms of their size and width.

As they begin to grow, the fruit start yellow, darkening as they mature and then gradually turning red. As they progress through various stages of ripening, the fruit continues to change color, displaying a range of crimson shades until finally reaching full maturity.

Peppers of this variety

There are very few varieties of chili included in the Capsicum Frutescens species. That being said, it does include the famous tabasco pepper used for making Tabasco hot sauce. Some other varieties included in this species are:

Heat profile

Peppers of the Capsicum Frutescens species range in heat from a mid-level spiciness, as found in the tabasco pepper (30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units), to an incredibly intense level of heat such as what’s delivered by the African Devil which can reach 175,000 SHU. They don’t reach the extreme heights of Capsicum Chinense chilies, but you also don’t see them near as mild as some of the hot peppers in the Capsicum Annuum species.

Native regions

The exact origin of Capsicum Frutescens is unclear. However, it is believed to have originated in South or Central America. Today, this species has spread across the tropical and sub-tropical regions and is now a native plant that grows and thrives throughout the major portions of Central, Northern, and South America.

Growing essentials – What to know before you grow

  • Because of its compact size and ornamental properties, this plant is a popular choice for growing at home.
  • These plants grow best in moist (but well-drained) soil that has been enriched with organic matter to ensure that it is rich and fertile.
  • Because Capsicum Frutescens is—like most other pepper plants—tropical, this plant thrives in hot, humid conditions and has very little tolerance for drought.
  • When growing outdoors, it is important to sow the seeds and wait to transplant the seedlings after any danger of frost has passed. When seasonal conditions no longer allow for overnight frost and the soil has warmed considerably, it’s the right time for transplanting.
  • Select a position for planting that will allow your plant or plants to get the full sun throughout the day, giving them the best possible conditions in which to grow and thrive.

Photo by: woodleywonderworks CC 2.0

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