Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Capsicum, a genus of small plants belonging to the order Solanaceae, natives of the tropics, valued mainly for their fruits, which have a hot pungent taste owing to the presence of a peculiar acrid alkaloid known as capsicin. Small pods called chillies, Spanish pepper, red pepper, and pod pepper, are produced by C. fastigiatum, a native of southern India. The larger pods known as capsicums or Guinea pepper, the "poivrons" of the French, are the produce of C annuum, originally native to South America, introduced into Europe by the Spaniards and cultivated in England since 1548. Other species are C. frutescens, the spur or goat pepper of the East Indies; C. tetragonum, the bonnet pepper of Jamaica; C. grossum, bell pepper; C. cerasiforme, cherry pepper; and C baccatum, bird pepper. Vinegar in which the fruits have been soaked is known as Chili vinegar, and Cayenne pepper (q.v.) is prepared from the ripe fruits, dried and ground.