Spices & Medicinal Herbs
Popular Herbs
Aloe Vera
Apple mint
African rue
Black Walnut

Capsicum Annum

(Common name:- Capsicum)


Capsicum Annum

Capsicum annum includes bell pepper, paprika, pimento, jalapeno, cascabel, Cayenne, Chili, Chile, Chilies, Chili Pepper, Red Pepper, Red Chili, Tabasco Pepper, African Pepper, and Bird Pepper.

The genus Capsicum comprised all the varied forms of fleshy-fruited peppers grown as herbaceous annuals - the red, green, and yellow pepper rich in vitamins A and C that are used in seasoning and as a vegetable food. It includes paprika, chili pepper, red pepper (cayenne), and bell peppers. The latter one is considered and eaten as a vegetable and is not covered in this section. The capsicums under each category vary tremendously and the species designation is not always possible. In general, paprika belongs to C.annum and the red peppers and chili peppers belong to the C.frutescens species.


Peppers originate from Central America where most of the main varieties were developed by local Indians. The genus Capsicum is native of South America which emerged probably in the area bordering Southern Brazil and Bolivia.

The three species C. annuum, C. frutescens and C. chinense evolved from a common ancestor located in the North of the Amazon basin (NW-Brazil, Columbia). The wild form of this species is native from Florida and the Bahamas to Arizona and down though Central America to Colombia.

As paprika plants tolerate nearly every climate, the fruits are produced all over the world. A fairly warm climate is, however, necessary for a strong aroma; therefore, in Europe, Hungarian paprika has best reputation; the best comes from the Kalocsa region. In the Unites States, California and Texas are the main producers.

Capsicum species were brought back to Europe by the Spaniards in the late 1400's and early 1500's and soon became enormously popular. Many of the varieties of Capsicum annuum were developed by New World Indians before European invaders arrived. Modern breeding has tended to concentrate on developing new sweet pepper cultivars.

Plant Description

Cayenne is a bush like dark-green annual plant, obtaining a height between 10 to 20 inches. The stems are furrowed, branching, and angular.

The simple leaves are on medium to long petioles and are usually wrinkled, entire, and ovate to oval. The pendulous flowers are white to violet, solitary, arising from the axillary nodes.

The fruits are long, cylindrical, and mostly ovoid, and when ripe are either scarlet or yellow, with a smooth shiny surface. The many seeds are yellow, smooth and round, with a spiny protuberance on the edge.

The plants grow at altitudes from sea level to 1,800 m above MSL in the tropics. Their pungency is influenced by several factors, such as high night temperatures and drought or over-watering.


It flowers from summer to frost. Pepper plants are treated as tender summer annuals outside their native habitat. They are propagated by planting seed directly in the field or by transplanting seedlings started in green houses or hotbeds after 6-10 weeks. Green chilies are immature fruits and red chilies have been allowed to ripen for a further 4 weeks.

Parts Used

The parts used are berry fruits. Removal of seeds and veins results in a less pungent and more brightly coloured product.

Main Constituents

The pungent constituents found in Cayenne are the capsaicinoids, present only in the fruit of the plant in small amounts, as low as 0.001 to 0.005% in "mild" and 0.1% in "hot" cultivars. Capsaicin is a phenolic compound, the vanillyl amide of isodecenoic acid

Apart from capsaicin, the taste of paprika is mostly due to essential oil; paprika scent is mostly do to a range of alkylmethoxypyrazines. Paprika also contains sizable amounts (0.1%) of vitamin C. Paprikas derive their colour in the ripe state mainly from carotenoid pigments, which range from bright red (capsanthrine, capsorubin and more) to yellow.

Capsicum or Cayenne (Capsicum Frutescens) is rich in vitamins A, C, iron and calcium. It contains vitamin G, magnesium, phosphorus, and sulphur; it also has some B-complex, and is rich in potassium.

Here is the statistical data of the constituents present in capsicum annum

Capsicum frutescens or Capsicum annuum Nutrient Units 1 tsp
1.80 g
Proximates . .
Water g 0.145
Energy kcal 5.724
Energy kj 23.958
Protein g 0.216
Total lipid (fat) g 0.311
Carbohydrate, by difference g 1.019
Fiber, total dietary g 0.490
Ash g 0.109
Minerals . .
Calcium, Ca mg 2.664
Iron, Fe mg 0.140
Magnesium, Mg mg 2.736
Phosphorus, P mg 5.274
Potassium, K mg 36.252
Sodium, Na mg 0.540
Zinc, Zn mg 0.045
Copper, Cu mg 0.007
Manganese, Mn mg 0.036
Selenium, Se mcg 0.158
Vitamins . .
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid mg 1.375
Thiamin mg 0.006
Riboflavin mg 0.017
Niacin mg 0.157
Vitamin B-6 mg 0.037
Folate, total mcg 1.908
Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Vitamin A, IU IU 748.980
Vitamin A, RE mcg_RE 74.898
Vitamin E mg_ATE 0.086
Lipids . .
Fatty acids, total saturated g 0.059
4:0 g 0.000
6:0 g 0.000
8:0 g 0.000
10:0 g 0.001
12:0 g 0.001
14:0 g 0.002
16:0 g 0.042
18:0 g 0.009
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated g 0.050
16:1 undifferentiated g 0.004
18:1 undifferentiated g 0.045
20:1 g 0.000
22:1 undifferentiated g 0.000
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated g 0.151
18:2 undifferentiated g 0.139
18:3 undifferentiated g 0.012
18:4 g 0.000
20:4 undifferentiated g 0.000
20:5 n-3 g 0.000
22:5 n-3 g 0.000
22:6 n-3 g 0.000
Cholesterol mg 0.000
Phytosterols mg 1.494

Aroma and flavour

The pungency for the red peppers and the colour value for the paprikas are the most important parameters. The hot flavour of chilies is caused by the substance capsicin which is concentrated mainly in the placenta (i.e. the connective tissue between the fruit and the seeds) and the seeds.

Hot peppers, used as relishes, pickled or ground into a fine powder for use as spices, derive their pungency from the compound capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-enamide), a substance characterized by acrid and burning taste, that is located in the internal partitions of the fruit. The capsaicin stimulates gastric secretions and, if used in excess, causes inflammation. It is a tasteless, odorless white crystalline substance. Its level varies widely in capsicum peppers, from less than 0.05% in the mildly pungent types to as high as 1.3% in the hottest chilies. Most of the capsaicin in a pepper is found in the interior ribs that divide the chambers of the fruit, and to which the seeds are attached.

Culinary Uses

Chilies have a chemical effect on our bodies as they stimulate the appetite and cool the body. The chili flavour revolutionized the cooking of tropical countries. Red pepper is used in a large variety of products, often in the meat and pickling industry in the form of crushed red pepper or ground red pepper. It is used either in the ground form or as oleoresin in any product that has some heat or pungency. A fine powder made from especially mild varieties of pepper, C.annum, is known as paprika. Paprika is used more extensively whenever a red to orange colour is desired such as in processed meats, snack, foods, sauces, gravies, salad dressings etc.

Medicinal Uses

Other Uses

C.frutescens, C. pubescens, C. chinense, C. baccatum, C. longum, C. cordiforme, C.grossum, C. chlorocladum, C. fastigiatum, C. cerasiforme.

Disclaimer: The site does not advice you to take any action, we only provide information based on research done by various people world wide. One should consult their doctor, physician or an expert before taking any action or herbal/natural remedy mentioned on this website.

Spices :: Herbs :: Vegetables
Copyright © 2006-2023 Spices and Medicinal Herbs