Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Capsicum annuum
(bell pepper)

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Datasheet

Capsicum annuum (bell pepper)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 05 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Documented Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Capsicum annuum
  • Preferred Common Name
  • bell pepper
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • C. annuum is listed as a 'casual alien, cultivation escape, environmental weed, garden thug, naturalized, weed' in the Global Compendium of Weeds (

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
C. annuum fruit.
TitleGreen pepper
CaptionC. annuum fruit.
CopyrightOregon State University, Dept of Nutrition & Food Management
C. annuum fruit.
Green pepperC. annuum fruit.Oregon State University, Dept of Nutrition & Food Management
C. annuum fruit.
TitleRed peppers
CaptionC. annuum fruit.
Copyright©Oregon State University, Dept of Nutrition & Food Management
C. annuum fruit.
Red peppersC. annuum fruit.©Oregon State University, Dept of Nutrition & Food Management

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Capsicum annuum L.

Preferred Common Name

  • bell pepper

Other Scientific Names

  • Capsicum annuum L. var. aviculare (Dierb.) D'Arcy & Eshbaugh
  • Capsicum annuum L. var. glabriusculum (Dunal) Heiser & Pickersgill
  • Capsicum baccatum sensu Britton & Millsp., non L.
  • Capsicum hispidum var. glabriusculum Dunal
  • Capsicum indicum Dierb. var. aviculare Dierb.

International Common Names

  • English: chilli pepper; green pepper; paprica; paprika; red pepper; sweet pepper
  • Spanish: chile dulce; pimiento; pimiento morron
  • French: carive; paprica; poivron
  • Portuguese: pimento

Local Common Names

  • Bahamas: bird pepper
  • Cuba: ají; ají guaguao
  • Dominican Republic: ají caballero; ají de gallina; ají dulce; ají jobito
  • Germany: Gemuese- Paprika; Spanischer Pfeffer
  • Haiti: piment; piment bouc; piment doux; piment z'oiseaux; piment zouézo
  • Myanmar: ngayok
  • Netherlands: spaanse Peper
  • Sweden: spansk Peppar

EPPO code

  • CPSAN (Capsicum annuum)

Summary of Invasiveness

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C. annuum is listed as a 'casual alien, cultivation escape, environmental weed, garden thug, naturalized, weed' in the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012). The species spreads by seed, which it produces profusely, and it has been transported through human and animal consumption as well as economic trade for hundreds of years (Basu and De, 2003). While the species is not yet reported to be invasive, it is known to be a cultivation escape in Finland and Puerto Rico, and is labelled an agricultural weed in Portugal and western Europe (Liogier and Martorell, 2000; Randall, 2012). It has been widely cultivated around the world as a valuable food and medicinal plant (Basu and De, 2003; FAO EcoCrop, 2014). There have been major concerns of the species in international trade due to the plethora of associated pests and parasites that are unintentionally introduced by the species to non-native habitats (USDA-APHIS, 1996). Further evaluation of the risk of invasiveness for C. annuum is needed.

 

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Solanales
  •                         Family: Solanaceae
  •                             Genus: Capsicum
  •                                 Species: Capsicum annuum

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The genus Capsicum consists of all the ‘chilli pepper plants’, and the confusing terminology ‘chilli’ is often used frequently and interchangeably with other names including ‘chile’, ‘aji’, and ‘paprika’ to refer to multiple species (Basu and De, 2003). The genus name Capsicum derives from a Greek-based derivative of the latin word ‘kapto’, meaning ‘to bite’, in reference to the heat or pungency of the species’ fruit (Basu and De, 2003), although it has also been speculated to derive from the Latin word ‘capsa’, a box, referring to the shape of the fruit in forms of the typical species (Britton, 1918). The common name ‘chile’ is a variation of ‘chil’, derived from the Nahutal (Aztec) dialect (Basu and De, 2003).

The number of global species within the Capsicum genus has long been subject to debate, with various authors ascribing 25 species to the genus, 33 by Morrison in 1680, 27 by Tournefort in 1700, 2 by Linnaeus in 1753, and 5 by Smith and Heiser (Basu and De, 2003). There are presently considered to be five domesticated species of Capsicum from approximately 25 recognised species in the genus, the primary distinguishing characteristics being flower and seed colour, shape of the calyx, number of flowers per node and their orientation; these five species are C. annuum, C. frutescens, C. chinense, C. baccatum and C. pubescens (Hawkes et al., 1979; Basu and De, 2003; Aguilar-Melendez et al., 2009). Cultivated C. annuum is thought to have been domesticated from wild populations of C. annuum var. glabriusculum in Mexico, possibly multiple times from geographically separate wild populations (Aguilar-Melendez et al., 2009).

Capsicum annuum, the genus type species, is often grouped with C. frutescens (chillies, hot or tabasco pepper) as species C. annuum sensu lato. In the literature, the rich variation of C. annuum sensu stricto has mainly been classified according to fruit shape, but there is no satisfactory cultivar group classification. Zhigila et al. (2014) recently described fruit morphology of five varieties of C. annuum. A common grouping of cultivar groups for C. annuum is as follows:

  • Abbreviatum; fruits ovate, wrinkled, 2-5 cm long. Also called wrinkled pepper;
  • Acuminatum; fruits slender, curved, up to 11 cm long, mild to extremely pungent. Also called chilli;
  • Cerasiforme; fruits globose with firm flesh, up to 2.5 cm in diameter, mild to pungent, red, yellow or purple. Also called cherry pepper or bird's eye pepper;
  • Conoides; fruits subconical, up to 3 cm long, very pungent. Also called cone pepper;
  • Fasciculatum; fruits clustered, erect, up to 7.5 cm long, very pungent. Also called cluster pepper;
  • Grossum: fruits large with basal depression, inflated, red, orange, yellow, or purple, flesh thick and mild. Also called sweet pepper or paprika;
  • Longum; fruits drooping, up to 30 cm long, mild or pungent, red, yellow or whitish. Also called long pepper.

Description

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A very variable, normally annual herb or subshrub, 0.5-1.5 m tall, erect, much branched, grown as an annual. Taproot strong, lateral roots numerous. Stem irregularly angular to subterete, up to 1 cm in diameter, much branched, often tomentose near branchings, green to brown-green, often with purplish spots near nodes. Leaves alternate, simple, very variable; petiole up to 10 cm long; leaf-blade ovate, up to 10(-16) cm x 5(-8) cm, acuminate at apex, margin usually entire, subglabrous, light to dark green. Flowers usually borne singly, terminal; pedicel up to 3 cm long in flower, up to 8 cm long in fruit; calyx cup-shaped, persistent and enlarging in fruit, usually with 5 conspicuous teeth; corolla campanulate to rotate with five to seven lobes, 8-15 mm in diameter, usually white; five to seven stamens with pale blue to purplish anthers; ovary 2(-4)-locular, style filiform, white or purplish, stigma capitate. Fruit a non-pulpy berry, very variable in size, shape, colour and degree of pungency, usually more or less conical, up to 30 cm long, green, yellow, cream or purplish when immature, red, orange, yellow, brown when mature. Seed orbicular, flattened, 3-4.5 mm in diameter, approximately 1 mm thick, pale yellow.

Plant Type

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Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub
Vine / climber

Distribution

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The genus Capsicum is of New World origin. It comprises five domesticated and about 25 wild species. Mexico is believed to be the centre of origin of C. annuum, whereas C. frutescens and the other cultivated species (C. baccatum var. pendulum, C. chinense and C. pubescens) originated in South America. Capsicum peppers were introduced to Asia in the sixteenth century by Portuguese and Spanish explorers via trade routes from South America. Widespread geographic distribution of C. annuum and C. frutescens has occurred on all continents, whereas the others are uncommon outside South America.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

AzerbaijanPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 38,954 MT
BahrainPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 44 MT (F)
BhutanPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 8,368 MT (F)
Brunei DarussalamPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 245 MT (F)
ChinaPresentFAO, 2009; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 1,427,4178 MT (F)
IndiaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 51,000 MT (F)
IndonesiaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 1,092,115 MT
IraqPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 17,300 MT (F)
IsraelPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 178,423 MT
JapanPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 149,600 MT (F)
JordanPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 51,527 MT
KazakhstanPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 82,000 MT (*)
Korea, Republic ofPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 385,763 MT
KuwaitPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 8,000 MT (F)
KyrgyzstanPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 1,400 MT (*)
LebanonPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 7,800 MT (F)
MaldivesPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 59 MT
MyanmarPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedKress et al., 2003
NepalPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 16,362 MT
OmanPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 7,348 MT (F)
PhilippinesPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 19,143 MT (F)
QatarPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 884 MT (F)
SingaporePresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedChong et al., 2009
Sri LankaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 67,920 MT
SyriaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 41,000 MT (F)
ThailandPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 17,000 MT (F)
TurkeyPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 1,796,180 MT
United Arab EmiratesPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 5,600 MT (F)
UzbekistanPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 37,000 MT (*)
YemenPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 17,000 MT (F)

Africa

AlgeriaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 268,055 MT (F)
BeninPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 46,123 MT
Burkina FasoPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 7,700 MT (F)
CameroonPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 9,500 MT (F)
Côte d'IvoirePresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 27,000 MT (F)
DjiboutiPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 9 MT (F)
EgyptPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 475,000 MT (F)
EthiopiaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 184,720 MT
GhanaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 279,000 MT (F)
KenyaPresentIntroducedFAO, 2009; Witt and Luke, 2017Naturalized
MadagascarPresentFAO, 2009; Madagascar Catalogue, 2014Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 90 MT (F)
MalawiPresentIntroducedWitt and Luke, 2017Naturalized
MaliPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 17,000 MT (F)
MauritiusPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 985 MT
MoroccoPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 232,220 MT
NigerPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 25,845 MT
NigeriaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 725,000 MT (F)
South AfricaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 750 MT (F)
SudanPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 9,270 MT
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedWitt and Luke, 2017Naturalized
TunisiaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 280,000 MT (F)
UgandaPresentIntroducedWitt and Luke, 2017Naturalized
ZimbabwePresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 600 MT (F)

North America

CanadaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 41,971 MT
MexicoPresentFAO, 2009; USDA-ARS, 2014Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 2,054,968 MT
USAPresentFAO, 2009; Aguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 915,160 MT
-AlabamaPresentUSDA-NRCS, 2014Both native and introduced in mainland USA
-ArizonaPresentNativeAguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017
-CaliforniaPresentUSDA-NRCS, 2014Both native and introduced in mainland USA
-ConnecticutPresentUSDA-NRCS, 2014Both native and introduced in mainland USA
-FloridaPresentNativeAguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017
-GeorgiaPresentNativeAguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-LouisianaPresentNativeAguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017
-MarylandPresentUSDA-NRCS, 2014Both native and introduced in mainland USA
-MississippiPresentUSDA-NRCS, 2014Both native and introduced in mainland USA
-New MexicoPresentUSDA-NRCS, 2014Both native and introduced in mainland USA
-New YorkPresentUSDA-NRCS, 2014Both native and introduced in mainland USA
-North CarolinaPresentUSDA-NRCS, 2014Both native and introduced in mainland USA
-PennsylvaniaPresentUSDA-NRCS, 2014Both native and introduced in mainland USA
-South CarolinaPresentUSDA-NRCS, 2014Both native and introduced in mainland USA
-TexasPresentNativeAguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017
-UtahPresentUSDA-NRCS, 2014Both native and introduced in mainland USA
-VirginiaPresentUSDA-NRCS, 2014Both native and introduced in mainland USA

Central America and Caribbean

AnguillaPresentNativeAguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017
Antigua and BarbudaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 95 MT (F)
ArubaPresentNativeAguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017
BahamasPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Aguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017
BarbadosPresentBroome et al., 2007; FAO, 2009; Aguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 800 MT (F)
BelizePresentFAO, 2009; Aguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 486 MT
British Virgin IslandsPresentAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Tortola
Cayman IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2014
Costa RicaPresentFAO, 2009; USDA-ARS, 2014Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 1,070 MT (F)
CubaPresentFAO, 2009; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 63,677 MT
CuraçaoPresentNativeAguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017
DominicaPresentNativeAguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017
Dominican RepublicPresentFAO, 2009; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Aguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 32,115 MT
El SalvadorPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 19,304 MT
GrenadaPresentNativeAguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017
GuadeloupePresentBroome et al., 2007; FAO, 2009; Aguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 150 MT (F)
GuatemalaPresentFAO, 2009; Aguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 44,902 MT (F)
HaitiPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Aguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017
HondurasPresentFAO, 2009; Aguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 16,000 MT (F)
JamaicaPresentFAO, 2009; Aguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 5,338 MT
MartiniquePresentNativeBroome et al., 2007; Aguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017
MontserratPresentFAO, 2009; Aguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 20 MT (F)
NicaraguaPresentNativeAguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017
PanamaPresentFAO, 2009; Panama Checklist, 2014; Aguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 2,765 MT
Puerto RicoPresentFAO, 2009; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Aguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 4,450 MT (F)
SabaPresentNativeAguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentFAO, 2009; Aguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 55 MT
Saint LuciaPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007; Aguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentNativeAguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017
Sint EustatiusPresentNativeAguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017
Sint MaartenPresentNativeAguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017
Trinidad and TobagoPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 800 MT (F)
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas

South America

ArgentinaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 127,000 MT (F)
BoliviaPresentFAO, 2009; Bolivia Checklist, 2014Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 3,306 MT (F)
BrazilPresentNativeForzza et al., 2010Native throughout
ChilePresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 22,000 MT (F)
ColombiaPresentFAO, 2009; Vascular Plants of Antioquia, 2014; Aguilar-Meléndez et al., 2017Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 50,000 MT (F)
EcuadorPresentFAO, 2009; Vascular Plants of Ecuador, 2014Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 7,000 MT (F)
French GuianaPresentIntroducedFunk et al., 2007var. annuum only: cultivated, frequently escaping
GuyanaPresentFunk et al., 2007; FAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 1,883 MT (F)
ParaguayPresentFAO, 2009; Paraguay Checklist, 2014Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 10,500 MT (F)
PeruPresentFAO, 2009; Peru Checklist, 2014Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 9,951 MT (F)
SurinamePresentFunk et al., 2007
UruguayPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 13,571 MT
VenezuelaPresentFunk et al., 2007Amazonas, Bolivar, Delta Amacuro

Europe

AlbaniaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 48,900 MT
AustriaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 17,693 MT
BelgiumPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 20,000 MT (F)
BulgariaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 59,524 MT
CroatiaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 35,822 MT (F)
CyprusPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 1,970 MT
Czech RepublicPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 7,200 MT (F)
FinlandPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 616 MT
FrancePresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 18,666 MT (F)
GermanyPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 1,904 MT
GreecePresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 119,900 MT
HungaryPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 208,200 MT (F)
IrelandPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 400 MT (F)
ItalyPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 325,727 MT
MoldovaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 15,839 MT
NetherlandsPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 330,000 MT
PortugalPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 1,300 MT (F)
RomaniaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 238,682 MT
SerbiaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 151,317 MT
SlovakiaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 24,619 MT
SloveniaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 7,286 MT
SpainPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 1,059,500 MT (F)
SwitzerlandPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 208 MT (F)
UKPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 14,900 MT (F)
UkrainePresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 146,000 MT

Oceania

AustraliaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 58,271 MT (F)
Cook IslandsPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 2 MT (F)
FijiPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 700 MT (F)
French PolynesiaPresentFAO, 2009; Wagner and Lorence, 2014Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 210 MT (F)
NauruPresentWagner et al., 2014
New ZealandPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, green production (2008) 5,600 MT (F)

History of Introduction and Spread

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The species C. annuum is native to the Americas (Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012) but its exact origin is uncertain. It has been speculated to originate from a district of Central America (Basu and De, 2003), or to have been domesticated in Mexico (Aguilar-Melendez et al., 2009). It has been suggested by Pickersgill that C. annuum var. glabriusculum in central Mexico is the wild progenitor of cultivated C. annuum var. annuum (Aguilar-Melendez et al., 2009. As one of the first domesticated plants of Mesoamerica, Capsicum has been known since the beginning of civilization in the Western hemisphere and has been part of the human diet since 7500 BC. It was either Christopher Columbus or his accompanying physician Chanca who first reported the use of Capsicum in the Americas around 1493-1494 and certainly Columbus who introduced it to Europe; by the mid-17th century Capsicum was being cultivated throughout southern and middle Europe as a spice and medicinal drug, with introductions of one species to Japan and five to India (for mass cultivation in the colonies, from the Portuguese) around this time (Basu and De, 2003).

Capsicum had been introduced to Jamaica by 1871, as Macfadyen observed the use of Capsicum fruit by Caribbean natives as a food and drink condiment, but the plant is not mentioned by species (Macfadyen, 1871).

Likewise in Puerto Rico, Bello Espinosa (1881) did not report the species in his Flora of Puerto Rico, although C. baccatum was included. The species was observed in Bermuda by Britton in 1918, who reported it also present in tropical America and cited HB Small that it was “occasionally seen outside of plantations”. The species can now be found across the West Indies, Lesser and Greater Antilles, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands (Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012).

In Asia the species had been introduced to the Philippines by 1888 as it was observed on Taal Volcano near the capital-city Manila; by 1888 it also had Japanese and Chinese local names, indicating that its introduction to those countries would have been sometime before 1888 as well (Tenison-Woods, 1888).

Risk of Introduction

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C. annuum is listed as a ‘casual alien, cultivation escape, environmental weed, garden thug, naturalized, weed’ in the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012). It is known to have escaped cultivation in Finland and is an agricultural weed in western Europe (Randall, 2012). C. annuum possesses invasive traits which could post threat to native flora, including high production of seeds dispersed through human and animal consumption of the fruits, and widespread distribution outside its native range. Risk of introduction for C. annuum has also been reported as very high due to the serious pests associated with the species; these pests are described further in the ‘Natural Enemies’ section. According to a 1996 risk assessment report, because of the serious risk of introducing associated root pests, the species had been rejected for import from Chile to several countries, including Columbia, Honduras, Panama, Chile, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Venezuela (USDA-APHIS, 1996). 

Habitat

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C. annuum can grow across a range of dry, sub-arid, sub-humid and humid forests at 0-1000 m altitudes in Madagascar (Madagascar Catalogue, 2014) and in similar forest conditions in Antioquia, Colombia to altitudes of 1500 m (Vascular Plants of Antioquia, 2014);  in Panama in is found at 0-2000 m (Panama Checklist, 2014). In Peru, the species is also found at altitudes of 0-2000 m, in disturbed areas, forests and rocky slopes (Peru Checklist, 2014). The species is cultivated in plains, lower hills and valleys in India, at a wider range of altitudes, 0-2100 m (Basu and De, 2003). In Bolivia the species grows in rain forests, dry valleys, and mountain lowlands, and has been found at varying ranges of altitudes, 0-500, 1000–1500, 2000–2500, 3500–4000 m (Bolivia Checklist, 2014), while in Ecuador, the species grows in a variety of habitats in the Galapagos, Coastal, Andean, and Amazonian regions, at even higher altitudes of up to 3000 m (Vascular Plants of Ecuador, 2014). 

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details Natural
Coastal areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production) Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Arid regions Present, no further details Natural
Arid regions Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Natural forests Present, no further details Natural
Natural forests Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Rocky areas / lava flows Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Growth and Development

Seeds of the domesticated crop germinate in 6-21 days after sowing and continuous flowering begins 60-90 days after sowing. Flowers are open for 2-3 days. Although normally considered a self-pollinated crop, outcrossing up to 91% may occur, depending on bee activity and heterostyly. Under normal circumstances, approximately 40- 50% of the flowers set fruit. Fruits begin to mature 4-5 weeks after flowering, and can be picked in sequences of 5-7 days. The peak harvest period is 4-7 months after sowing, but perennial growth continues in the absence of frost or disease.

Wild C. annuum seeds have staggered seed dormancy, which allows germination and recruitment when optimal conditions occur in a more variable and uncertain environment (Luna-Ruiz et al., 2018). Wild seeds have thicker testae than domesticated plants, and produce more but smaller seeds adapted for dispersal. Wild C. annuum has high rates of outcrossing by insect pollinators. Flower initiation is late, but once initiated is persistent and very prolific, with overlapping stages of flower and fruit development over the season (Luna-Ruiz et al., 2018).

Ecology

Although Capsicum plants grow as a perennial shrub in suitable climatic conditions, they are usually cultivated as annuals elsewhere. Preferred soil type is light, well manured, limey soil, and during rainy seasons well drained and heavy (Basu and De, 2003).

Capsicum peppers are considered to be warm season, day-neutral plants, although certain forms may show a photoperiodic reaction. The vegetative cycle may be hastened by imposing certain photoperiods, but reports in the literature are conflicting. Capsicum peppers tend to tolerate shade conditions up to 45% of prevailing solar radiation, although shade may delay flowering. Capsicum peppers grow best on well-drained loamy soils at pH 5.5-6.8. They grow at a wide range of altitudes, with rainfall between 600-1250 mm. Severe flooding or drought is injurious to most cultivars. Seeds germinate best at 25-30°C. Optimal temperatures for productivity are between 18-30°C. Cooler night temperatures down to 15°C favour fruit setting, although flowering will be delayed as temperatures drop below 25°C. Flower buds will usually abort rather than develop to maturity if night temperatures reach 30°C. Pollen viability is significantly reduced at temperatures above 30°C and below 15°C.

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 17 30

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration6001250number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Notes on Natural Enemies

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C. annuum is susceptible to a large number of pests and diseases. Viruses cause the most serious damage. The most obvious method of control where the plant is grown as a crop is to use resistant cultivars. Unfortunately only few cultivars with virus resistances are known. Cucumber mosaic cucumovirus (CMV), Chilli veinal mottle potyvirus (ChiVMV), Potato Y potyvirus (PVY) and a complex of the tobamovirus group are the most important in Asia. Anthracnose caused by Colletotrichum spp. is a major problem of ripened fruits and is best controlled by proper crop management to minimize the source of inoculum via seeds or host debris. Partial resistance has been found. Phytophthora blight and crown rot (P. capsici), Cercospora leaf-spot (C. capsici), bacterial spot (Xanthomonas vesicatoria) and bacterial wilt (Ralstonia solanacearum) are other important diseases and are best controlled by integrated pest management, including resistant cultivars that may be available. The major pests are thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis), aphids (Myzus persicae), mites, bollworms (Heliothis spp.), and fruit flies (Dacus spp.). As most of these are polyphagous pests, control is difficult. Resistances are not yet available, but field tolerance is observed in some cultivars and landraces. Inappropriate pesticides and over-use of pesticides often augment the pest problems on capsicum peppers. Integrated crop management is suggested to overcome multiple pest and disease problems.

Ceratitis capitata is a serious parasite associated with C. annuum which has caused countries to reject C. annuum for import to several countries in the past (USDA-APHIS, 1996). 

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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C. annuum is spread by movement of seeds, which are produced in large quantities and remain viable for over a year. In the wild, the seeds are distributed primarily by birds; they drop seeds while eating the fruits, or seeds pass through the digestive tract unharmed (Aguilar-Melendez et al., 2009). Chillies are a favorite food of many birds living in the natural range. The species is also intentionally spread by humans for use of its fruits and leaves as a food, spice, ornamental, and medicine (Basu and De, 2003; FAO EcoCrop, 2014). It is known to have unintentionally escaped cultivation in Puerto Rico and Finland (Liogier and Martorell, 2000; Randall, 2012), and can be spread by both biotic and abiotic vectors, as the species can grow in sandy, coastal areas (Vascular Plants of Ecuador, 2014).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop productionCultivated as a crop plant for hundreds of years in the Americas, and now around the world Yes Yes Basu and De, 2003
Escape from confinement or garden escapeKnown to have escaped garden and crop cultivation Yes Yes Liogier and Martorell, 2000; Randall, 2012
Flooding and other natural disastersGrows in coastal areas where flooding would be possible Yes Yes Vascular Plants of Ecuador, 2014
Garden waste disposal Yes Liogier and Martorell, 2000; Randall, 2012
Medicinal use Yes Yes Basu and De, 2003; FAO EcoCrop, 2014
Ornamental purposes Yes Yes Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, 2014

Economic Impact

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C. annuum has a positive economic and health impact. It is one of the oldest domesticated crops in the Western Hemisphere and is a major ingredient in most global cuisines with reported health benefits; in addition to being the most widely grown spice in the world, the species has also been used for pharmaceuticals, natural colouring agents and cosmetics, as an ornamental plant and as the active ingredient in self defence repellents (Kim et al., 2014). The top 20 pepper-producing countries grew 33.3 million tons of hot pepper in 2011, and within the last decade, world production of hot pepper has increased by 40% (FAO Statistics, 2014; Kim et al., 2014).

Production for home consumption and production for dried fruits constitute a significant part of the production in Asia. China and Mexico have the largest area harvested. Thailand has historically been a major supplier of capsicum peppers in South-East Asia, although its imports tend to exceed exports. Malaysia exports a large volume of fresh peppers to Singapore, but also imports dried peppers from India, China and Korea. Mexico and the USA are major producers in the Americas, and Nigeria and Egypt in Africa. In Europe, Spain, Hungary and Bulgaria are major producers, but Dutch crops under glass now produce as much as Egypt, indicating the high value of this crop.

The species is classified as an agricultural weed and garden thug by the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012), indicating its potential threat to the environment and, in agricultural settings, competition with other crops as well as soil contamination and disease by associated root parasites, increasing vulnerability to invasions and infestations.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Fast growing
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Increases vulnerability to invasions
Impact mechanisms
  • Pest and disease transmission
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field

Uses

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As a culinary commodity, C. annuum is known, in dried form, as both chilli pepper and paprika (Basu and De, 2003), and fruits are used in salads, are stuffed or baked, added to soups and stews, dried and used as culinary seasoning, or pickled, while leaves make a good spinach dish (FAO EcoCrop, 2014). Capsicum pepper is the most popular and most widely used condiment all over the world. Capsicum peppers are extensively pickled in salt and vinegar. Colour and flavour extracts are used in both the food and feed industries, for example, ginger beer, hot sauces and poultry feed, as well as for some pharmaceutical products. Sweet, non-pungent peppers are widely used in the immature, green-mature or mature-mixed-colours stage as a vegetable, especially in the temperate zones. Capsicum extracts show promise against some crop pests.

In addition to uses as food and food additives, the fruits of C. annuum also have been grown on a large scale and used as medicine for the digestive system, blood system, muscular/skeletal, and skin applications (FAO EcoCrop, 2014). It has also been reportedly used in arrow poisons by some tribal peoples, such as the Dyaks of Borneo and Youri Tabocas of Brazil (De, 1994). The commercial use of the species in skin cosmetic products was recently reviewed in a toxicological risk assessment and found to be safe to humans within the ingredient formulae (Anon, 2007).

Ornamental peppers reach 25 to 50 cm in height and are grown as annuals or pot plants, producing colourful fruits. In warmer climates, ornamental peppers are perennial and a good bedding plant for hot weather conditions, performing well as a ground cover in mixed flower borders, as an edging, or in containers. Most varieties that are bred for ornamental use hold their peppers in a upright position above the foliage.
 

Uses List

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General

  • Sport (hunting, shooting, fishing, racing)

Human food and beverage

  • Spices and culinary herbs
  • Vegetable

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical

Ornamental

  • Christmas tree
  • Cut flower
  • garden plant
  • Potted plant
  • Propagation material
  • Seed trade

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Further research of the species is recommended to evaluate the extent of its invasiveness, especially considering its widespread distribution range and popularity as a food, medicinal and ornamental plant. 

Bibliography

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Abdalla OA; Desjardins PR, Dodds JA, 1991. Identification, disease incidence, and distribution of viruses infecting peppers in California. Plant Disease, 75(10):1019-1023.

Agranovsky AA, 1993. Virus diseases of pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) in Ethiopia. Journal of Phytopathology, 138(2):89-97.

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Martin FW et al.,1979. Vegetables for the hot, humid tropics. Part 7. The peppers, Capsicum species. Agricultural Research Science and Education Administration. New Orleans, USA: USDA-ARS.

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