from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Blooming Capsicum annuum

Blooming Capsicum annuum

Nuclear eudicotyledons
Euasterids I
Order : Nightshade (Solanales)
Family : Nightshade family (Solanaceae)
Genre : paprika
Scientific name
View of the fruit
As chilies called fruit shapes

The plant genus paprika ( Capsicum ) belongs to the nightshade family (Solanaceae). It is best known for its fruits , which are used as vegetables and spices . Depending on the size, color and taste as well as sharpness , special names such as chilli , Spanish pepper , hot peppers , peperoncini or chili peppers are used for many varieties . The most common variety, which also includes most of the paprika, hot peppers and chillies available in Europe, is Capsicum annuum . Almost all peppers contain - in very different concentrations - the substance capsaicin , which creates the heat.

Paprika and chilli were selected by the Association for the Preservation of Crop Diversity (VEN) as " Vegetable of the Year " 2015/2016 in Germany.

Origin of name: Paprika, der, was borrowed from Serbian pàprika . This is a further training in Croatian pàpar 'pepper' , which in turn comes from the Latin piper 'pepper' .

Plant description

Habit and leaves

Capsicum annuum, illustration
Different colored peppers cut in different ways for use in the kitchen

The seeds germinate above ground (epigeic), they form two cotyledons . The mostly perennial herbaceous plants reach heights of growth of 150 centimeters, but there are both ground-covering and significantly larger species and varieties. The roots form within a radius of 30 to 40 centimeters just below the surface of the earth and extend up to 60 centimeters in depth. As a seedling, a main shoot develops which forms pairs of leaves that can appear in quick succession. The pairs of leaves are offset from each other by about 90 ° ( alternate ).

The shape of the leaves is elongated oval to ovate. They are entire and stalked, up to 30 centimeters long and up to 15 centimeters wide. After three months at the earliest - at a height of around 30 centimeters to 1 meter - the main shoot branches for the first time, and the first flower forms in the branch. The secondary shoots branch out again during growth, and here too there are flower approaches in the branches. With age, the plant sprouts new branches from leaf axils and sometimes from the branches themselves, which also branch out after a while.

In some varieties, a purple discoloration can be observed in the branches, on the leaves and also on the fruits, which sometimes extends into black shades and often affects the entire plant. These discolorations act as protection against excessive solar radiation. In some cases, these properties have been enhanced through targeted selection and crossings for ornamental peppers. Discoloration of the fruits can only be observed until shortly before ripening, as the often red color then predominates.

All pepper varieties are perennial plants, even if the name Capsicum annuum suggests that they are annual. The botanical term does not refer to a calendar year, but to the fact that the plant does not take any vegetation breaks from germination to seed maturity. The plants grow between 0.3 and 4.6 meters per year. Although the plants prefer slightly acidic to neutral soils, they will also grow in a soil pH between 4.3 and 8.7. Too high a pH value can lead to yellow discoloration on the leaf margin and poor growth. The plants grow best in loose, sandy to loamy soil. In Central Europe, peppers are usually grown as an annual (germination in spring - fruit harvest in the same year - afterwards the plant is composted) because they are very sensitive to cold. At temperatures between 7 and 29 ° C, peppers can also grow outdoors without any problems.


Capsicum chinense flower . The six blue stamens are striking

Depending on the species, there are one to ten flowers per leaf axil . The flower stalks are 0.2 to 2 inches long.

The hermaphroditic flowers are radial symmetry and five-fold with a double flower envelope . The calyx is bell-shaped, the sepals are partly pointed towards the front, partly also rounded. The flower crowns are mostly white, but there are also many greenish and purple flowers (e.g. Capsicum pubescens ). The ovary is on top.


Fruit-bearing pepper plant

While the fruit is referred to as a pod in standard language and culinary terms, from a botanical point of view it is a berry (more precisely a dry berry, as the pericarp dries up during ripening). From the outside in, this pericarp consists of a firm skin, also called the exocarp , followed by the actual pulp, the mesocarp , and finally the inner wall, the endocarp . On the inside of the former carpels is the significantly lighter placental tissue , which also often divides the interior of the fruit into different, not completely separate chambers in the form of partitions (placental ridges). The seeds sit on the placenta and the partitions, some of which fill the entire interior of the fruit. The seeds are kidney-shaped and smooth. Depending on the species, their color is light brown to black, and the thousand grain weight is between 5 and 8 grams.

The fruits are very rich in shape and color. There are many appearances from narrow-cylindrical to spherical. The shape of the tip of the fruit is also different - the variety ranges from a cone-shaped point to a rounded shape to indentations with several curves. The fruit growth shows a sigmoid behavior, i.e. H. growth is strongest in the middle of the ripening period, while very little growth is observed at the beginning and end. In 28 to 35 days after fertilization, the fruits have reached their final size, after which the fruit weight increases further due to the thickening of the pericarp. Depending on the variety and external conditions, peppers will ripen 50 to 120 days after fertilization. Ripe fruits can take on the colors red, orange, yellow, brown or even white. Green, purple or black fruits are always unripe; some varieties ripen through several color stages, e.g. B. from green to yellow to red.


The flowers open in the morning, and the stigma is immediately fertile ; the stamens only release their pollen after a few days . Because of this property, peppers often cross-pollinate and thus lead to high variability among the plants. With the exception of the wild forms Capsicum buforum and Capsicum cardenasii , the flowers are hermaphroditic and self-pollinating . The pollination is mainly by insects, but especially at room entertainment and in the greenhouse is often sufficient wind or gently shaking the plant to pollinate the flowers. The highest fertilization rate occurs at temperatures of 16 to 32 ° C. The flower formation is at its optimum at temperatures of 16 to 21 ° C. The plant reacts to night temperatures above 24 ° C by shedding flowers, and from night temperatures of 32 ° C the early fruit development is inhibited. Even after the fruit has set, new flowers develop, so that different stages of fruit formation can be observed on a plant. However, the number of flowers decreases when there are already ripening fruits on the plant. Under ideal temperature conditions, flowers can be formed all year round, but the influence of the length of the day on fruit formation is relatively minor.


The color and ingredients of the wild Capsicum are adapted to a special propagation strategy that ensures both a large spatial distribution and the ideal location for the plants. The sharpness of the fruits is originally to be understood as a defense mechanism against mammals . Mammals quickly learn to avoid hot peppers, which is also due to the fact that they are easily recognizable thanks to their often bright red color. For birds, on the other hand, the fruits are not hot because the differently structured receptors on their nerve cell surfaces do not react to capsaicin . Since the birds' digestion does not break down the seeds, they are excreted undigested together with the faeces. This often happens when the birds perch on trees, so wild capsicum can often be found in the shade of larger trees. The excrement surrounding the seeds softens the seed coat so that the seedling can pierce it more easily, but it also provides nutrients that the young plant needs in the first stages of development. Since birds generally travel greater distances than mammals, the seeds are simultaneously distributed over a larger area.

In culture peppers are drawn almost exclusively from seed, but also is vegetative propagation by cuttings possible.


Structural formula of 3-isobutyl-2-methoxypyrazine

The paprika flavor is largely due to an essential oil . The proportion of long-chain hydrocarbons , fatty acids and their methyl esters is less than 1 percent. Alkyl methoxy pyrazines , such as the “earthy” smelling 3-isobutyl-2-methoxypyrazine, are important for the smell of paprika . Ripe peppers also contain up to 6 percent sugar .

Paprika fruits contain a relatively high amount of vitamin C with an average of 128 mg per 100 g of fruit . In 1926, the Hungarian chemist Albert Szent-Györgyi succeeded for the first time in isolating large quantities of vitamin C from various plants, including paprika. In 1937 he received the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work . Bell pepper fruits also contain a lot of flavonoids and carotenes and salicylate.

100 grams of raw peppers contain 28 kilocalories, 1.17 grams of protein, 4.73 grams of carbohydrates, and 0.33 grams of fat. Other ingredients are approximately: 212 milligrams of potassium , 12 milligrams of magnesium , 11.2 milligrams of calcium , 5 milligrams of tocopherol per 100 grams of paprika.


Sweet peppers of different colors
Different stages of maturity of Capsicum annuum 'Twilight'

Paprika colors are many and varied.

The color is mainly caused by various dyes of the carotenoid series: Most of these carotenoids are red ( capsanthin E 160c, capsorubin E 160c and others), but yellow representatives are also common ( curcumin E 100). The total carotenoid content in the paprika powder is 0.1 to 0.5 percent.

In addition, anthocyanins are the cause of a dark, aubergine-colored hue of the unripe fruits in some varieties. When ripe, however, the anthocyanins change and finally cause a color change from orange to red.

The dyes can also be used to dye clothing, provided that the appropriate preparation is carried out.

Capsaicin - along with other capsaicinoids - is responsible for the pungent aroma of chilli and paprika fruits.


The heat perceived when consuming chillies is caused by capsaicinoids, especially capsaicin . In contrast to substances that irritate the taste buds on the tongue and are therefore responsible for the taste sensations sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami , capsaicin and its related substances cause a heat or pain stimulus, comparable to the cold stimulus caused by menthol and the like. Ä. The more capsaicin a chili contains, the hotter it is. The sweet peppers grown in Hungary from around 1950 contain almost no capsaicin, hot peppers or hot Hungarian peppers around 0.01 percent, cayenne or Thai chillies around 0.3 percent, very hot varieties ( tepin , habanero ) a maximum of 0.85 percent .

Formed by gland cells located on the epidermis of the placenta wall, capsaicin, a yellow, partially crystalline oil, is distributed between the cell wall and the cuticle . Since only these glandular cells produce capsaicinoids within the fruit, the placenta and the fruit components that are close to it, such as seeds or the septum, contain particularly high concentrations of pungent substances. The placenta and septum usually contain around 90 to 99 percent of all capsaicinoids, the concentration of which decreases with increasing distance from the placenta; in many hot varieties the tip is far less sharp than the end of the stem.

Plant diseases and pests

Bell pepper plants are susceptible to various diseases and pests, especially when cultivated. The carrier can be the plants themselves (through seeds), insects or humans. The most important hazards are described below. Resistance to various diseases has developed, especially among wild species . In some cases, attempts are made to transfer these properties to the cultivated species and varieties in order to minimize the risk to the yields.

Tobacco Mosaic Virus

The tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) is a viral disease that is manifested in mosaic-like spots on the leaves. After more and more leaves have died, the plant also dies. The pathogens are originally specialized in tobacco plants, but can be transmitted to them through the relationship between tobacco and paprika.

In the 1960s, a large part of the tabasco stocks , the raw material for tabasco sauce , fell victim to this virus. In the 1970s, a resistant Tabasco variety could be bred with the variety 'Greenleaf Tabasco'.

Verticillium wilt disease

The Verticillium albo-atrum is a harmful fungus that is mainly transmitted through seeds and infected soil. At first the fungus spreads slowly and causes a slowdown and later the complete breakdown of the fluid circulation in the plant; affected parts of the plant wilt and die.

Animal pests

Sweet peppers are mainly weakened by sucking pests. On the one hand, these remove liquid from the plant with the nutrients dissolved in it; on the other hand, the injuries caused by viruses and fungal pathogens can penetrate the plant. The most important pests include aphids , whiteflies , red spiders , thrips , woodlice , frost worms and fungus gnats . The weevil Anthonomus eugenii is a threat to commercial pepper cultivation, especially in the southern states of the United States, Mexico, Central America, Hawaii and some islands in the Caribbean . In addition to these insects, pests such as snails are also a danger to pepper plants.

More diseases

Other diseases that can be observed on peppers are, among other fungal diseases such as true and false mildew , rusts and damping-off . Other viral diseases are, for example, the alfalfa mosaic virus (AMV), the beet curl disease , the cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) and the tobacco etching virus (TEV).

Distribution and cultivation


Historical representation in Leonhart Fuchs ' "New Kreüterbuch" (1543)

The origin of the pepper species and varieties is Central and South America , with a distribution center of the genus in Central South America (Brazil and Bolivia). The origin of the cultivation was presumably in different regions depending on the species. Capsicum annuum was probably domesticated in central or northeastern Mexico, the other species in South America. Capsicum baccatum and Capsicum pubescens probably come from the Andes, Capsicum baccatum probably from Bolivia. The origin of Capsicum chinense is probably in the (upper) Amazon region. The region of origin of Capsicum frutescens is still controversial, both Amazonia and Central America come into question; no wild, uncultivated original species or population of this species has yet been found.

During excavations in a valley near Tehuacán ( Mexico ), evidence was found that shows that peppers were found as early as 7000 BC. Were used as useful plants. It was still the wild forms of the plants. The first cultivated forms resulting from selection are dated to the period between 5200 and 3400 BC. Estimated. All five species still cultivated today were cultivated by the native peoples before America was discovered. In a work published in 2007, researchers around Linda Perry from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC were able to show that in southwest Ecuador as early as 4100 BC Chr. Chili was used, the strength of which differs from wild chili.

Christopher Columbus ' travels from 1492 onwards also aimed to break Venice's monopoly in the pepper and spice trade . After he landed in India - according to his assumption - he got to know spicy fruits there, which the inhabitants used to season dishes. Initially, these fruits were named Pimienta after the black pepper known from India . It is unclear whether Columbus believed he had found relatives of the black pepper he knew, or whether he deliberately used the comparison to emphasize its use as a spice. The first written mention of the plant genus comes from Columbus' second trip, during which the doctor Diego Alvarez Chanca who traveled with him mentioned the plant in a letter to the person who commissioned the trip. Thanks to fruits brought to Europe, the first plants could soon be grown in Spain. Paprika are still known today under the name “Spanish pepper”. In Spain today the pepper is called pimiento .

The exploration of the American flora that followed the discovery of the new continent soon revealed a large number of varieties of the new plant. Bartolomé de las Casas describes several peppers that he found after his arrival in America in 1502, including a plant with elongated and slender fruits and one with cherry-shaped and hotter fruits. The Hessian Hans Staden , who was detained between 1547 and 1555 by residents of what is now western Brazil, described two forms of the peppers used there: a yellow and a red.

As a result of colonialism and increasing world trade - especially through the Portuguese - varieties of the plant genus quickly spread in Africa , the Middle East and Southeast Asia as far as Japan . It has become an integral part of the local cuisine in many countries such as India and Thailand . Before that, ginger and pepper were used as hot spices there.

The Ottoman Empire probably first came into contact with pepper plants during one of the sieges of the Portuguese colonies of Ormus (Persia, 1513) or Diu (India, 1538). The first record of paprika plants in Germany comes from 1542, when Leonhart Fuchs described the plant under the name Siliquastrum in his work “De Historia stirpium”. Amazingly, even at this point in time, he reported that it was widely used as a pot plant .

The basis for the botanical description that is still valid today and the assignment of these plant species and varieties to the genus Capsicum was made in 1753 by Carl von Linné . He initially named the two species Capsicum annuum and Capsicum frutescens .

Targeted breeding

Chilli harvest in East Timor

The subspecies ' Tepin ' is considered to be the archetype of most cultivated peppers today , the fruits of which are around 1 cm in diameter, round and very hot. This variety can still be found growing wild in South America today. Targeted selection and crossing resulted in over a thousand different varieties such as the well-known Mexican ' Jalapeño ', the Austrian 'Half-Long Volcano' and the Japanese 'Shishitou'. Even today, many new varieties are bred by crossing, including so-called ornamental chilies, the fruits of which, when ripening, go through the color spectrum from purple to yellow to red. Since the aim of these cultivars was a certain look, these ornamental chilies are usually uninteresting in terms of taste, although they are definitely edible. Other commercial cultivars specialize in greenhouse cultivation, so that they deliver maximum harvest results even under changed lighting conditions.

For almost all species there is a wild form that is characterized by very small fruits. Some of the wild forms are increasingly being used commercially by being collected and sold fresh or dried, for example Tepin (wild form of Capsicum annuum ) in Mexico, Capsicum praetermissum and Capsicum cardenasii in Brazil, Capsicum chacoense and Capsicum eximium in Bolivia. Only Capsicum pubescens is no longer known to be a wild form, as this species has been domesticated for several thousand years.


Red pepper fruits in Cachi ( Argentina ) when air-dried

Today peppers are grown in tropical and temperate zones around the world. A longer vegetation period is achieved by growing in greenhouses . In order to guarantee an uninterrupted harvest in Central Europe, the pepper culture is planted in several batches (planting dates). These are cultivated for a maximum of 11 months and after a break in cultivation of around a month to clean and recreate the cultivation area, they are replaced by a new plantation.

In Germany, mainly blocky types of peppers are sold from German stocks throughout the summer. In addition, peppers are also imported and sold from Spain and the Netherlands all year round, and also from Hungary during the summer season. In the winter months there are sometimes supplementary deliveries of sweet peppers from Israel and hot peppers from Egypt when the harvest in the Netherlands and Spain is insufficient. Declining harvest quantities in the winter months are caused by harvest breaks due to new crops and by lower yields due to decreased irradiation.

Economical meaning

In 2017, according to the food and agriculture organization FAO, around 36 million t of paprika (including chillies) were harvested worldwide.

The following table gives an overview of the ten largest paprika producers worldwide, who produced a total of 85.1% of the harvest.

Largest paprika producers (2017)
rank country Quantity
(in t )
1 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 17,795,349
2 MexicoMexico Mexico 3,296,875
3 TurkeyTurkey Turkey 2,608,172
4th IndonesiaIndonesia Indonesia 2,359,441
5 SpainSpain Spain 1,277,908
6th United StatesUnited States United States 962.679
7th NigeriaNigeria Nigeria 748,559
8th EgyptEgypt Egypt 623.221
9 AlgeriaAlgeria Algeria 614.922
10 TunisiaTunisia Tunisia 429,000
world 36.092.628


External system

Within the systematics of the nightshade family , the genus is classified by all current editors in the subfamily Solanoideae. In both William D'Arcy's and Armando Hunziker's systematics , the genus is classified into a large tribe Solaneae, Hunziker divides this tribe into various sub-tribus and assigns the genus to the Capsicinae, which, in addition to the Capsicum, includes the genera Aureliana , Athenaea , Contains Darcyanthus , Eriolarynx , Vassobia , Larnax , Dunalia and Withania .

The phylogenetically reasonable classification Richard Olmsteads representing the date classification Solanaceae, arranges the genus together with the Lycianthes below the Solanoideae in a tribe Capsiceae.

Internal system

Within the genus 38 species are distinguished, five of which are cultivated. Since the first description of the genus by Carl von Linné , a large number of species have been described, which often turned out to be synonyms for other species. According to a list from 2007, a distinction is made between the following species, plus three species described in 2011, four in 2019 and one in 2020:

Name of the species origin
Capsicum annuum L. Northern Colombia to the south of the USA
Capsicum baccatum L. North Argentina , Bolivia , South and Southeast Brazil , Colombia, Paraguay , Peru
Capsicum benoistii Hunz. ex Barboza It was first described in 2019 from south-central Ecuador.
Capsicum caatingae Barboza & Agra It was first described in 2011 from northeastern Brazil.
Capsicum caballeroi Nope It was first described in 2006 from Bolivia.
Capsicum campylopodium Sends. Southern brazil
Capsicum carassense Barboza & Bianchetti It was first described from Brazil in 2020.
Capsicum cardenasii Heiser & Smith Bolivia
Capsicum ceratocalyx Nope It was first described in 2006 from Bolivia.
Capsicum chacoense Hunz. North and Central Argentina, South Bolivia, Paraguay
Capsicum chinense Jacq. Latin and South America
Capsicum coccineum (Rusby) Hunz. Bolivia, Peru
Capsicum cornutum (Hiern) Hunz. Southern brazil
Capsicum dimorphum (Miers) OK Colombia, Ecuador
Capsicum eshbaughii Barboza Bolivia
Capsicum eximium Hunz. Northern Argentina, Southern Bolivia
Capsicum flexuosum Sendtn. South and Southeast Brazil, Paraguay, Northeast Argentina
Capsicum friburgense Barboza & Bianchetti It was first described from Brazil in 2005.
Capsicum frutescens L.
Capsicum galapagoense Hunz. Galapagos Islands
Capsicum geminifolium (Dammer) Hunz. Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
Capsicum hookerianum (Miers) OK South Ecuador, North Peru
Capsicum hunzikerianum Barboza & Bianchetti, It was first described from Brazil in 2005.
Capsicum lanceolatum (Greenm.) Morton & Standley Mexico , Guatemala
Capsicum longifolium Barboza & S. Leiva It was first described in 2019 from northern Peru to southern Ecuador.
Capsicum longidentatum Agra & Barboza Northeast Brazil
Capsicum mirabile Mart ex. Sends Southern brazil
Capsicum neei Barboza & X. Reyes It was first described in 2019 from southeastern Bolivia.
Capsicum parvifolium Sendt. Colombia, Northeast Brazil, Venezuela
Capsicum pereirae Barboza & Bianchetti Brazil
Capsicum piuranum Barboza & S. Leiva It was first described in 2019 from northern Peru.
Capsicum praetermissum Heiser & Smith Central and Southern Brazil, Paraguay
Capsicum pubescens Ruiz & Pav. Latin and South America
Capsicum recurvatum Witas. Brazil
Capsicum rhomboideum (Dunal) Kuntze Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru
Capsicum schottianum Sendt. Brazil
Capsicum scolnikianum Hunz. Peru, Ecuador
Capsicum tovarii Eshbaugh, Smith & Nickrent Peru
Capsicum villosum Sends. Southern brazil
Red chilli berries, cut open

For example, Capsicum anomalum formerly belonging to the genus Capsicum was completely separated from the genus and assigned to another tribe of the nightshade family as Tubocapsicum anomalum of the genus Tubocapsicum . This genus was in 1908 by Tomitaro Makino proposed and since the processing of the genus Capsicum of Armando Hunziker generally recognized from the year 1956th According to the latest findings, it contains the varieties Tubocapsicum anomalum and Tubocapsicum obtusum .

Two groups are distinguished within the genus. The first with a chromosome number of , the other with . The chromosome number of 25 of the 33 species is known, according to the first group Capsicum annuum , Capsicum baccatum , Capsicum cardenasii , Capsicum caatingae , Capsicum chacoense , Capsicum chinense , Capsicum eximium , Capsicum flexuosum , Capsicum frutescens , Capsicum galapagovif , Capsicum longidentatum , Capsicum , Capsicum praetermissum , Capsicum pubescens and Capsicum tovarii . The second group includes Capsicum campylopodium , Capsicum cornutum , Capsicum friburgense , Capsicum lanceolatum , Capsicum mirabile , Capsicum pereirae , Capsicum recurvatum , Capsicum rhomboideum , Capsicum schottianum and Capsicum villosum .

Within the group, Capsicum chacoense , Capsicum galapagoense , Capsicum annuum , Capsicum chinense and Capsicum frutescens are combined into a “white-flowered group”. The white flowers within this group are star-shaped, the seeds are yellowish, in the non-cultivated forms the fruits are exclusively red. Within the species complex around the not clearly separable Capsicum annuum , Capsicum frutescens and Capsicum chinense , some scientists assume only one or two different species. Pickersgill wrote in 1988: The status of Capsicum annuum, C. chinense, and C. frutescens as distinct species could legitimately be .” ( “The status of Capsicum annuum, C. chinense, and C. frutescens as distinct species could legitimately be questioned. " ), referring to this Eshbaugh replied in 1993: " At the moment I have decided to consider the 'Capsicum annuum' complex and the 'Capsicum chinense' complex as two independent, domesticated species. How C. frutescens fits into this scenario remains unclear. " (" For the present, I have chosen to recognize the Capsicum annuum complex and the Capsicum chinense complex as two distinct domesticated species. Where C. frutescens fits into this scenario remains to be resolved ").

A "violet-flowered group" is formed by Capsicum eximium , Capsicum cardenasii , Capsicum pubescens and Capsicum tovarrii . The flowers of this group are partially or completely purple, star, bell or wheel-shaped, the seeds are brownish to black. A small group of Capsicum baccatum and Capsicum praetermissum with greenish dots inside the white crown (with a purple border in Capsicum praetermissum ) and yellowish seeds is probably positioned between the two aforementioned groups.

Most species of the group have star-shaped, white crowns with differently colored spots on the corolla lobes or in the corolla tube, the exception is Capsicum rhomboideum with a wheel-shaped, monochrome yellow crown. The fruits within the group are either red with brownish seeds or greenish-yellowish with black seeds. A further subdivision of this group has not yet been made due to a lack of studies.

An overview of the known species and their cultural forms can be found under List of Paprika and Chilli varieties .

Conceptual differentiation and etymology

Standard language terms

Although all peppers - whether mild or hot - can be assigned to the same genus, there is a conceptual distinction in all standard-language varieties of German between the large varieties used as vegetables and the small, hot varieties. In Germany the vegetable is called the paprika , in the south also the paprika , in Austria it is the paprika and is also known as sweet peppers or paprika. In Switzerland and South Tyrol vegetables is based on the Italian and the or the pepperoni . The small and often hot fruits are called peperoni or chilli (pods) in Germany , rarely chili peppers or peppers. In Austria they are called peppers rare, pepperoni, and Switzerland and South Tyrol also Peperoncini . The singular is rarely used here in most varieties. Furthermore, terms such as Spanish pepper, red pepper or cayenne pepper are used , all of which can be traced back to the historical link with the pepper trade and the root word pepper .

This connection is even more pronounced in other languages. In Spanish, pimienta refers to pepper, but also to chilli powder ( pimienta roja , cf. German cayenne pepper ), allspice ( pimienta de Jamaica , clove pepper) and other unrelated plants, pimiento, on the other hand, is the (mild) paprika fruits.

In English , sweet peppers are usually referred to as bell pepper or sweet pepper , and hot peppers as chile pepper or hot pepper . Pepperoni (also called chili peppers ) in English refers to a sausage that is seasoned with paprika.

The Turkish beaver is also derived from Piper from the same origin as pepper . When naming beaver, no distinction is made between pepper, paprika (vegetables and fruit), chilli or chilli powder, everything is referred to as beaver . More precise names in Turkey are as follows: Black pepper, ground or unground, is called Kara Biber . The pepper as a vegetable is usually referred to in Turkish as Dolmalik Biber to distinguish it from the pepper fruit , which when it is spicy is called Acı Biber , if not, Tatlı Biber . The fruits are also labeled differently in terms of color; red fruits are called Kırmızı Biber , green Yeşil Biber .

Chili powder is called Toz Biber in Turkey ; there is usually no distinction between hot and sweet variants. Pul beaver is also widespread in Turkey ; so-called "paprika flakes", which - as the name suggests - are not ground into powder, but consist of small, coarse flakes and are often very hot. Pul Biber is now widely used as a hot spice in Europe , including the doner kebab . For the production of paprika flakes, varieties of the Capsicum annuum species , known in Europe as " Spanish pepper ", are mostly used .

Etymology of the terms paprika, hot peppers etc.

In the German language, the expression paprika was adopted from Hungarian around the 19th century , which in turn had borrowed the word from the Serbo-Croatian expression pàprika , which is a derivative of pàpar (dt. "Pepper").

The expression has been adopted in many languages ​​and mostly only serves as a name for the dried and ground spice. This also applies to Swiss High German , where the Italianisms peperoni or peperoncini are used for the fruits . In the rest of the German-speaking world, the term paprika describes both the spice and the fruit. In linguistic usage, gender is neither regionally nor supraregional. According to Duden, both the male and the female gender are used, i.e.: the paprika as well as the paprika.

The verb paprieren used in Austria is used for seasoning with paprika powder.

Etymology of the term chili

The name does not go back to the name of the country of Chile , but is derived from the name for chilli fruits in the Nahuatl language family ( chilli ), which was and is spoken by parts of the Aztec indigenous people in Mexico. In Mexico this only means the fruit; in German, on the other hand, it is not always clear whether the term refers to the plant, the fruit or a dish that uses the fruit. Some purists in New Mexico, where the majority of American chillies are grown, insist that chili is the dish and chile pepper is the fruit. The spelling of the word chili is also very controversial. You will find the versions Chilie , Chilli, Chillie, Chile or Chille especially in English, but also in some German-speaking countries .

Etymology of the scientific name

The scientific name Capsicum is derived from a neo-Latin derivation of the Greek word kapsa ( κάψα ). The root of the word means something like "capsule ( related word ), container" and is due to the shape of the fruit. A derivation of kaptein ( κάπτειν ) "to bite" is often wrongly assumed, but the actual meaning of the word is "to grasp". The same error can also explain the etymological origin of the seldom used loan term biteberry for hot peppers.


There is hardly a local cuisine these days that does not use paprika in some form. However, the respective use is very different and strongly adapted to regional customs. Some varieties such as Jalapeño , Serrano , Anaheim or sometimes the sweet peppers are harvested and used when they are green, unripe.

The hot varieties are preferred in warm regions, as the heat sensation caused by the capsaicin in turn promotes perspiration, which lowers the actual temperature again. Examples of these cuisines in the original home of the peppers are Mexican cuisine , Tex-Mex cuisine , but also Central and South American cuisine.

Chillies from Thailand

But Asia is also known for spicy cooking styles, including Chinese , Indonesian , Thai , Korean and Indian cuisine . In Europe, the Mediterranean areas are preferred, such as Spanish , Turkish , Italian or Greek cuisine ; But the spiciness of peppers is also valued in the Balkans and Hungary .

Sweet peppers as a decoration

Mild peppers are used both as a vegetable and as a spice in many other cuisines, including French . The naturalization of spice peppers in French cuisine and thus in “ haute cuisine ” can be traced back to the chef Auguste Escoffier . In 1879, he had the paprika powder come to Monte Carlo from Szeged , Hungary, through his friend, Hungarian chef Karoly Gundel , and thus brought the “Hungarian spice” to international attention. To the courts, which he served, "Poulet au paprika" (belonged paprika chicken and "Gulyas Hongroise" (-) goulash ). Another famous French dish, ratatouille , is unthinkable without peppers.

Like many other nightshade plants, the green components of the plant such as leaves and stems contain toxins and should therefore not be consumed. However, the proportion of these toxins is not as high as in other nightshade plants, so that in India, for example, the leaves are also used for a kind of tea.

Use as a spice

Range of chilli fruits
Paprika powder

The best known form in which paprika is used as a spice is paprika powder . For production, the pepper fruits are dried and then ground. Depending on the variety used and the associated spiciness as well as the proportion of seeds and partitions, paprika powder can be divided into different categories. Hungarian paprika powder is divided as follows (with decreasing heat): rose paprika - semi-sweet - noble sweet - delicacy - extra. There are also the Spanish paprika powder Dulce (comparable to noble sweet) and the stronger Picante. Hot paprika powder is often referred to as cayenne pepper , but actually refers to the cayenne chilli used .

In addition to paprika powder, a large number of seasoning sauces and pastes are made from paprika. Probably the best known is through fermentation produced by chilies Tabasco sauce . A base of vinegar and vegetables (mostly tomatoes ) or fruits is also often used for chilli sauces . The best-known spicy sauces with paprika include Sambal Oelek (Indonesia), Ajvar in large parts of Southeast Europe, Erős Pista (Hungary), Adschika (West Caucasus and South Russia), Harissa (North Africa), Mojo (Canary Islands), Lajiaojiang (China), Mole and various salsas (Mexico).

A little common specialty is paprika seed oil obtained from paprika seeds, which contain approx. 20% oil. It has an intense paprika taste and a deep red color. Delivery countries are u. a. Hungary and China.

Dried chilli fruits

Dried peppers are coarsely ground or available as whole fruits. These can be used both like paprika powder and like fresh fruit after soaking in water. In Mexican cuisine , dried chilies have a special place. Some of the varieties used get their special aroma through drying and are used accordingly. Most chilies of the same variety have different names, depending on the condition in which they are used. Unripe ancho fruits are called poblano , dried mulato; Jalapeño are mostly unripe, the ripe, very aromatic jalapeño preserved by smoking are known as chipotle .

A comparison method was introduced in 1912 to determine the sharpness of peppers. Due to the Scoville scale named after the inventor, the heat of chillies is still indicated today. However, today the capsaicin content is determined chemically and analytically. The different types of paprika can achieve Scoville values ​​from 0 to 2,200,000. Pure crystalline capsaicin corresponds to a severity level of 15,000,000 to 16,000,000 Scoville units. An example of such a chili product is Blair's 16 million reserve . 1 milliliter of this product would have to be diluted with 16 cubic meters of water to neutralize the sharpness.

The approximate classification of the spiciness of peppers ranges from mild (0 Scoville units, e.g. sweet peppers) to spicy (100 to 1500 Scoville units, e.g. cherry peppers, hot peppers, peperoncini, poblano , pasilla ) and medium hot (1500 up to 10,000 Scoville units, e.g. jalapeño , guajillo, waxed peppers) to hot: (more than 30,000 Scoville units, e.g. Serrano, Cayenne , Chiltepin or Habanero with 100,000 to 500,000 Scoville units). Some extremely hot varieties exceed 1 million Scoville: Bhut Jolokia , Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, and the current record holder, Carolina Reaper . By using concentrates, it is possible to produce even hotter chilli sauces.

Hands must be cleaned with oils, fats or alcohol after processing paprika, as capsaicin is not water-soluble and cannot be completely removed by normal hand washing. Plastic gloves are a good way to protect yourself when processing hot varieties. In the case of extremely hot varieties, even the smallest amounts can come into contact with the eyes, mucous membranes or skin, sometimes severe irritation. If you want to reduce the spiciness, only the fruit walls without placenta and seed septa may be used, as the latter contain 90 to 99 percent of capsaicin.

Use as a vegetable

Paprika from Hungary

After ever milder varieties became available through breeding, the use of paprika as a vegetable became more and more popular. As with the hot peppers, the uses of the sweet peppers are very versatile. Paprika can be used raw in salads, filled, pickled, steamed or fried. Fresh peppers can be kept for about two to three days at room temperature and for about a week in the refrigerator (vegetable compartment). Before use, the stem, placenta, septum and seeds should be removed. Green (unripe) peppers are a little bitter and stronger in taste, while ripe fruits are sweeter.

Use in medicine

Gerhard Madaus summarizes various medical literature: Camerarius praised the decoction against dropsy, others recommended it with laurels for intermittent fever. Matthiolus' New-Kreuterbuch from 1626 recommend it in Hydrops, Heckers Pract. Medicinal. for indigestion, torpidity and mucus in the stomach, typhus , malaria , paralysis of the limbs, serous tan and cataracts , Clarus' handb. d. spec. Medicinal. to stimulate digestion, the vascular and nervous system, externally as a gargle and chewing agent for septic angina , Turnbull for chilblains and toothache. Potter recommended Capsicum as an alcohol and opium substitute for addicts, and for various urological disorders. Veterinarians knew Liquor capsici compositi for rubbing in rheumatism and internally for digestion. The French folk medicine used Capsicum for hemorrhoids , the Latvian let ripe pods ferment with salt, yellow soap and camphor in a bottle in the warm and rubbed aching limbs with it. In Mongolia, it is used for fever, hemorrhoids, parasites and carcinoma. The Homeopathy knows Capsicum annuum u. a. for mastoiditis , radiating aching, smelly cough, obesity and sleep disorders with melancholy and addiction. Medicine does not use sweet peppers, but preparations with a higher capsaicin content .

The Native Americans used peppers as a remedy, for example against toothache or osteoarthritis . Some of these techniques were adopted into folk medicine by Europeans after the discovery of America. The best-known use of paprika in medicine today is heat patches , which are used for rheumatic pain . The combination of active ingredients developed in 1928 contains an extract from cayenne pepper and arnica and belladonna components. Products containing capsaicin are also used against other complaints such as lumbago , migraines , shingles , diabetic neuropathy or post-therapeutic and trigeminal neuralgia ; further possibilities for the medicinal application of capsaicin are regularly known. For example, in 2006, a high dose of capsaicin was found to kill prostate cancer cells in mice. By stimulating heart muscle cells in mice, capsaicin is also said to reduce the heart damage they sustained in a heart attack, and could be used in the therapy of myocardial infarction in the future .

Korean scientists also found in a study with 100 women that an increased consumption of hot peppers is associated with a reduction in body fat .

However, capsaicin and thus spicy food is also suspected of causing symptoms such as bladder irritation , incontinence , gastritis , diarrhea and stomach pain .

Cultural impact

As with hardly any other food, a worldwide fan base has formed around the chilli, which is equally dedicated to the cultivation and consumption of various varieties of the Capsicum genus . The reason for this is that the body reacts to the spiciness with the release of endorphins , which cause a feeling of happiness. Many therefore try to experience this feeling of happiness again with ever higher doses.

In this environment, an industry has established itself that supplies its customers, also known as chili heads , with constantly new chili products with sometimes adventurous names. Among other things, names such as Pain is Good (“pain is good”), Pain 100% (“100% pain”) or Holy Shit (literally “holy shit”) are used.

In traditional chilli and paprika growing areas, folk festivals take place regularly, the focus of which is the chilli. The town of Diamante in Calabria celebrates the Peperoncino Festival annually , in Hatch ( New Mexico ) the harvest is celebrated with the Chile Festival , which takes place on the weekend of Labor Day , and from France, the Fête du Piment in the town of Espelette is best known. In addition, there are cook-off competitions for chili con carne and its own fairs for spicy foods , especially in the United States .


In March 2006, by the US Postal Service a stamp series issued, representing the five typical American crops "Crops of the Americas". In addition to chillies, maize , beans ( Phaseolus ), pumpkins and sunflowers are the other motifs in the stamp series.

See also


Web links

Commons : Paprika ( Capsicum )  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikibooks: Culture Guide Paprika  - Learning and teaching materials
Wiktionary: Paprika  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Chili  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. The fire in the kitchen: chilli and paprika are vegetables of the year 2015/16. In: Association for the preservation of crop diversity e. V. , accessed June 14, 2015.
  2. a b Constanze Hiepler: Capsaicinoids in Capsicum fruits of a defined origin and their stability during processing and storage. Dissertation from the Bergische Universität Wuppertal , 2004, 157 pages, (PDF; 1.1 MB).
  3. Entry on peppers. In: Römpp Online . Georg Thieme Verlag, accessed on April 7, 2016.
  4. ^ Meyers Lexicon online: Paprika . ( Memento of July 2, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  5. Martin Hofer: Paprika - Ingredients and health value. In: City of Vienna. Archived from the original on February 26, 2014 ; accessed on September 6, 2017 .
  6. Erika Müller-Seitz, Michael Petz: Where does the sharpness come from. In: Nachrichten aus der Chemie , 2012, vol. 60, p. 156.
  7. Too hot is not healthy - foods with very high capsaicin content can be harmful to your health. (PDF; 221 kB), BfR Opinion No. 053/2011 of October 18, 2011.
  8. Kraig H. Kraft, Cecil H. Brown, Gary P. Nabhan, Eike Luedeling, José de Jesús Luna Ruiz, Geo Coppens d'Eeckenbrugge, Robert J. Hijmans, Paul Gepts: Multiple lines of evidence for the origin of domesticated chili pepper , Capsicum annuum, in Mexico. In: PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA , Volume 111, Issue 17, 2014, pp. 6165-6170. doi: 10.1073 / pnas.1308933111
  9. Barbara Pickersgill: Domestication of Plants in the Americas: Insights from Mendelian and Molecular Genetics. In: Annals of Botany , Volume 100, Issue 5, 2007, pp. 925-940. doi: 10.1093 / aob / mcm193
  10. Marissa Moses, Pathmanathan Umaharan: Genetic Structure and Phylogenetic Relationships of Capsicum chinense. In: Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science , Volume 137, Issue 4, 2012, 250-262.
  11. a b c d Solanaceae. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, archived from the original on August 4, 2007 ; Retrieved July 16, 2006 .
  12. Fabio Bergamin: Stone Age Chili . In: February 16, 2007, accessed September 8, 2019 .
  13. Carl von Linné: Species Plantarum 1. 1753. Pages 188-189.
  14. Georg Vogel et al .: Handbook of special vegetable cultivation. Ulmer, Stuttgart 1996, ISBN 3-8001-5285-1 , pp. 902-917.
  15. Crops> Chillies and peppers, green. In: Official FAO production statistics for 2017., accessed on April 8, 2019 .
  16. JAM van Balken: Overview of Solanaceae Species ( Memento of the original of September 29, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF)
  17. Armando T. Hunziker: The Genera of Solanaceae. Gantner, Ruggell 2001, ISBN 3-904144-77-4 .
  18. ^ Richard Olmstead, Lynn Bohs: A Summary of Molecular Systematic Research in Solanaceae: 1982-2006. In: D. M. Spooner et al. a. (Ed.): Solanaceae VI. Genomics Meets Biodiversity. ISHS, Leuven 2007, ISBN 978-90-6605-427-1 .
  19. a b c d Eduardo A. Moscone et al .: The Evolution of Chili Peppers (Capsicum - Solanaceae): A cytogenic Perspective. In: D. M. Spooner et al. (Ed.): Solanaceae VI. Genomics Meets Biodiversity. ISHS, Leuven 2007 2007, ISBN 978-90-6605-427-1 , pages 137-169.
  20. a b c Gloria E. Barboza et al .: New Endemic Species of Capsicum (Solanaceae) from the Brazilian Caatinga: Comparison with the Re-circumscribed C. parvifolium . In: Systematic Botany , Volume 36, Issue 3, 2011. Pages 768-781.
  21. a b Gloria E. Barboza: Lectotypifications, synonymy, and a new name in Capsicum (Solanoideae, Solanaceae). In: PhytoKeys , Volume 2, 2011, pp. 23-38. doi: 10.3897 / phytokeys.2.730
  22. a b c d e Gloria E. Barboza et al .: Four new species of Capsicum (Solanaceae) from the tropical Andes and an update on the phylogeny of the genus. In: PLoS ONE , Volume 14, Issue 1, 2019. doi: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0209792
  23. ^ A b Gloria E. Barboza et al .: Capsicum carassense (Solanaceae), a new species from the Brazilian Atlantic Forest . In: Phytokeys , Volume 140, pp. 125-138, 2020. doi: 10.3897 / phytokeys.140.47071
  24. ^ William G. D'Arcy et al .: The genus Tubocapsicum (Solanaceae). (PDF; 713 kB) In: Botanical Bulletin of Academia Sinica. 42, 2001, pages 67-84.
  25. Barbera Pickersgill: The genus Capsicum: a multidisciplinary approach to the taxonomy of cultivated and wild plants . In: Biologisches Zentralblatt 107, No. 4, 1988, pages 381-389.
  26. W. Hardy Eshbaugh: Peppers: History and Exploitation of a Serendipitous New Crop Discovery , In: J. Janick, JE Simon (Eds.): New Crops. Wiley, New York 1993, pp. 132-139.
  28. Plant nutrition. Julius Springer Verlag, Berlin 1931, p. 94.
  29. CBD News: World's hottest pepper is grown in South Carolina. December 26, 2013, accessed September 28, 2014
  30. Robert Berkeley: Creative Cooking, Paprika. Bassermann, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-8094-0804-2 , pp. 18-21.
  31. Petra Kirschbaum: Capsaicinoids in fresh and processed paprika. Dissertation from the Bergische Universität Wuppertal , 2002, pp. 7–8, (PDF).
  32. ^ Gerhard Madaus: Textbook of biological remedies. Volume I. Olms, Hildesheim / New York 1976, ISBN 3-487-05890-1 , pp. 814-819 (reprint of the Leipzig 1938 edition).
  33. Georgos Vithoulkas: Homeopathic Medicines. Materia Medica Viva. Volume VII. Elsevier, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-437-55061-4 , pp. 277-311.
  34. Hans-Jörg Behrendt: Comparative functional studies of the heat capsaicin receptor (TRPV1) and the cold menthol receptor (TRPM8) in recombinant and native cell systems (species used: humans, rats and mice). Dissertation from the Ruhr University Bochum , 2004, 123 pages, (PDF; 1.8 MB).
  35. ^ Katie Pence: Study Shows Common Pain Cream Could Protect Heart During Attack. In: UC HealthNews , Sept. 14, 2009.
    W. Keith Jones et al. a .: Peripheral Nociception Associated With Surgical Incision Elicits Remote Nonischemic Cardioprotection Via Neurogenic Activation of Protein Kinase C Signaling. In: Circulation. 120, 2009, pp. 2-9, doi: 10.1161 / CIRCULATIONAHA.108.843938 .
  36. Alexander Busch: Chili is addicting - holy fire. In: Handelsblatt , November 14, 2003.
  37. Andrea Fock, Jutta Muth, Monika Niehaus : Opium for the people: Natural drugs in our food. Edited by Udo Pollmer . Rowohlt Verlag, 2011, ISBN 978-3-644-45011-0 .
  38. Stamp Announcement 06-11: Crops of the Americas stamps. In: Philately. February 16, 2006. From, accessed November 27, 2019.
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on May 12, 2006 in this version .