• Chilli peppers originated in the Americas and Christopher Columbus was one of the first Europeans to encounter them when he was in the Caribbean. He called them peppers because of their spicy hot taste.
  • The spicy heat of chilli peppers is measured in Scoville heat units (SHU), indicating the amount of capsaicin present in the fruit. Capsaicin is a chemical compound that stimulates nerve endings in the skin, especially in the mouth and eyes. Our hottest chilli at Eden – the Dorset Naga – measures 1.6 million units!
  • Like tomatoes, potatoes and tobacco, chillies are members of the nightshade family and come in some weird and wonderful shapes. 
  • There are three groups of chilli:
    • Habanero-type chillies: Habaneros can range in heat from very mild to mega-hot. They have a wonderful fruity aroma that adds a distinctive flavour to salsas and chilli sauces.
    • Vegetable-type chillies: These are relatively large-fruited with thick flesh and tend to be milder than the other types. They play the same culinary role as sweet peppers and the great stuffed or chopped in salads, stews, stir-fries and omelettes.
    • Spice-type chillies: These are generally small-fruited and thin fleshed and hotter than vegetable type chillies. They are used to add heat dishes rather than bulk and are ideal for drying and milling into powdered spice. Many varieties make great edible ornamentals.

Where it grows

Native to tropical America, chillies are widely cultivated and thrive in moist soils and sunlight.

Common uses

When chillies were introduced into Europe they were grown as botanical curiosities in the gardens of Spanish and Portuguese monasteries. The monks experimented with them in the kitchen and found they could use them as a substitute for black peppercorns which at the time were so expensive they were used as legal currency!

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Pickling piquant peppers easy way

Just grown Piquant peppers (the small round red type) and are about to pickle them. My technique: Sterilise jars in bleach solution; chlorine type, cheap as chips for 30 mins. Remove seeds (save for next year) and place in pyrex type glass bowl. Pour boiling water over peppers; this softens them slightly and removes a little of the heat. After about 20 mins remove and drain well then make up the pickling solution. Pickling solution, sweet mix, a general rule; To every litre of vinegar (own choice) add 200 grams of sugar and a good desert spoon full of salt. place in large heat proof glass measuring jug and heat in micro wave until very hot but not boiling (say 80 deg. c); ensure sugar and salt is dissolved. Place peppers in jars and fill with pickling solution, making sure there are no air bubbles. Seal and keep for 2-3 weeks. Enjoy
Submitted by Steve Southwick on

dwarf chilli pepper - cheyenne

I have this plant in a tub outside. What should I do with it in the winter?
Submitted by steve summerlin on

capsicum Twilight

I'm growing these in a pot on SW facing Patio in N kent, Finally after a disapointing start due to V bad weather there's now lots of fruit, some of which has been apparent for at least a month. Non of it is changing colour from purple. The weather is now changing and getting colder. Can I crop now - are purple fruits ready? or shall I hang on where they are or shall I bring them indoors?
Submitted by Andrew McWhiirter on


  • Anther: appendage on the stamen that contains pollen.