The genus ‘Capsicum’ consists of different types of chile pepper plants. ‘Chile pepper’ is also known as ‘chili pepper’ or ‘chilli pepper.’ Chile peppers belong to the genus Capsicum and family Solanaceae. Chile peppers are one of the most valuable crops cultivated across the globe. There are about 30 species of plants in the genus ‘Capsicum’; however only 5 species are domesticated or cultivated on a large scale. Rest of the species are found in the wild. Chile peppers are believed to be originated in the Americas.
Five cultivated/domesticated species of chile peppers are Capsicum chinense, Capsicum pubescens, Capsicum annuum, Capsicum baccatum, and Capsicum frutescens. Among these, Capsicum annuum is the most cultivated chile pepper species. Most of the chile pepper varieties that are available in the market belong to the group Capsicum annuum.
There are several wild species of chile pepper plants that can be exploited for commercial cultivation. Capsicum eximium is one of these wild chile peppers. Most of the wild species of capsicums are of Brazilian origin. Major among them are Capsicum caatingae, Capsicum recurvatum, Capsicum mirabile, Capsicum dusenii, Capsicum longidentatum, Capsicum leptopodum, Capsicum buforum, and Capsicum campylopodium.
Capsicum dimorphum, Capsicum geminifolium and Capsicum hookerianum are wild capsicum species native to the region comprising of Colombia and Ecuador. Capsicum coccineum and Capsicum minutiflorum are wild capsicum species native to Bolivia and surrounding regions. Capsicum scolnikianum and Capsicum tovarii are wild capsicum species native to Peru.
Other wild species of capsicums include Capsicum cardenasii, Capsicum chacoense, Capsicum cornutum, Capsicum exile, Capsicum eximium, Capsicum galapagoense, Capsicum lanceolatum, Capsicum parvifolium, Capsicum praetermissum, Capsicum rhomboideum, Capsicum schottianum, and Capsicum villosum.
Capsicum eximium: Capsicum eximium is another wild species of Capsicum genus. It is a large perennial shrub or a small tree, belonging to the Capsicum pubescens complex. It is native to Bolivia and Argentina.
Plant Description: Capsicum eximium is a large, woody, perennial shrub that grows to 1.5 metres tall. Occasionally, the plant keeps on growing to become a small tree, in some cases up to 4 metres tall. The plant is very hardy and easy to grow. It is a purple-flowered species of capsicum. Fruits are edible and are hot like other chile peppers.
Flower and Fruit Description: The plant has distinctive purple-coloured flowers with an entire calyx and bell-shaped corolla. Fruits are small, non-pulpy berries with a shiny, orange to purple-coloured skin. Many seeds are present in a fruit and seeds are yellow in colour. Fruits are pungent and highly hot and hence recommended for use in small quantities. Fruits are used as a spice and condiment to flavour various food preparations.
Growing Practices: The plants prefer a sunny location, warm, humid climate and well-drained soils; they are not tolerant of frost. The plant can be grown as an annual in mild, temperate climates. Propagation is by seeds and seeds are very difficult to germinate. Seeds may take few weeks to a few months to germinate. Seedlings may be raised indoors and hardened seedlings may be transplanted outdoors during spring. The plant requires moderate amount of watering and manuring for its growth. In annual plants, the fruits can be harvested within the first year itself.
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