Capsicum frutescens is a species of chili pepper that is sometimes considered to be part of the species Capsicum annuum. Pepper cultivars of C. frutescens can be annual or short-lived perennial plants. Flowers are white with a greenish white or greenish yellow corolla, and are either insect- or self-pollinated. The plants’ berries typically grow erect; ellipsoid-conical to lanceoloid shaped. They are usually very small and pungent, growing 10–20 millimetres (0.39–0.79 in) long and 3–7 millimetres (0.12–0.28 in) in diameter. Fruit typically grows a pale yellow and matures to a bright red, but can also be other colors. C. frutescens has a smaller variety of shapes compared to other Capsicum species, likely because of the lack of human selection. More recently, however, C. frutescens has been bred to produce ornamental strains, because of its large quantities of erect peppers growing in colorful ripening patterns.
- Cabai Rawit, from Indonesia, used in hot Sambal.
- Hawaiian chile pepper
- Malagueta pepper
- Piri piri, also called African Bird’s Eye or African devil
- Siling labuyo, from the Philippines.
- Tabasco pepper, used to make Tabasco sauce
- Xiaomila, from Yunnan province in China, one of the 3 most commonly used chili in Chinese cooking. The other 2 were Facing heaven pepper and Two Vitex Chili Pepper.
The Capsicum frutescens species likely originated in South or Central America. It spread quickly throughout the tropical and subtropical regions in this area and still grows wild today. Capsicum frutescens is currently native to the majority of Central America as well as Northern and Western South America. It is believed that C. frutescens is the ancestor to the C. chinense species.
Use in Ethiopia
According to Richard Pankhurst, C. frutescens (known as barbaré) was so important to the national cuisine of Ethiopia, at least as early as the 19th century, “that it was cultivated extensively in the warmer areas wherever the soil was suitable.” Although it was grown in every province, barbaré was especially extensive in Yejju, “which supplied much of Showa as well as other neighboring provinces”. He singles out the upper Golima river valley as being almost entirely devoted to the cultivation of this plant, where thousands of acres were devoted to the plant and it was harvested year round.
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