A scene of blacks, purples, and reds…
Scoville heat units (SHU): 5,000 – 30,000
Jalapeño reference point: Equal to 16 times hotter
Products and seeds: Count Dracula pepper at Reimer Seeds
Some chili peppers do colorful against the grain. That’s the story for the Count Dracula pepper. It doesn’t do the bright greens, oranges, and yellows of many popular ornamental peppers. Instead it sets a darkly dramatic, Gothic scene of blacks, purples, and reds. Dark leaves and purple flowers envelope jet black and crimson red fruits. And this ornamental pepper has plenty of bite to go along with the the name and its looks, reaching up to cayenne pepper level heat.
What do Count Dracula peppers look like and taste like?
If there ever was a Halloween pepper, this is the one. It’s the entire spooky package, from the perfect Halloween name to the overall look of the plant and pods themselves. The Count Dracula pepper plant doesn’t settle for green foliage like most other chilies. Its dark-hued black leaves have a green undertone and are peppered with purple flowers, setting a truly dramatic stage for the uniquely colored pepper pods. Those pods are conical in shape and grow to two inches in length – aging from black to red as they stay on the vine – much like the Black Pearl pepper. You’ll get a nice mix of red and black on one plant for a very distinct look. The entire package (plant and pods) has a real Goth sense about it.
In terms of taste, these are ornamental peppers, so their look is the true standout experience. Read: they aren’t too complex in terms of flavor, beyond being spicy with a peppery taste.
How hot is the Count Dracula pepper?
There’s bite here. Ok, maybe not vampire-like, but it’ still plenty hot. Count Dracula peppers range from 5,000 to 30,000 on the Scoville scale. It’s a wide spread of heat which is not uncommon for ornamental peppers. They are grown to highlight their look, not to develop a more nuanced taste and consistent level of spiciness. Against our jalapeño reference point, these chilies can be anything from equal heat to a jalapeño pepper to 16 times hotter. At their peak they are equal to a low-level cayenne pepper.
How can you use them?
If you love darker, Gothic landscaping, the Count Dracula pepper is a high performer in the garden or in containers. They are edible, like all ornamental peppers (though, as mentioned, not too much nuanced in terms of flavor), so try these chilies for a darker take on salsas, sauces, or any other recipe where the chili is a heat source but not a flavor enhancer.
Where can you buy Count Dracula peppers?
There are harder to find ornamental peppers than most. You can find them online via some seed sellers (like Reimer Seeds), but don’t expect to discover them at a local landscaping center. The look is beautiful, but unique, so it’s not an ornamental that’s a go-to for most edible landscaping artists. Still, if you are looking for a Gothic landscaping feel, the Country Dracula pepper is truly best of class and worthy of seeking out.
Photo by Perennial Summer