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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 14 | Solanaceae

7. Capsicum Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 188. 1753; Gen. Pl. ed. 5, 86. 1754.

Chili pepper, aji [Greek kapsa, box or capsule, alluding to fruit]

W. Hardy Eshbaugh

Shrubs [rarely trees], rhizomatous, usually glabrous or glabrescent, sometimes sparsely or densely pubescent. Stems erect or spreading, dichotomously branched, often hollow. Leaves alternate. Inflorescences axillary, solitary flowers or 2–3[4–6]-flowered fascicles. Flowers 5–7-merous; calyx not expanded or accrescent, cyathiform or campanulate, margins truncate, entire, ± undulated, or with 5–10 teeth of 2 lengths, base somewhat enlarged in fruit, not expanded or accrescent; corolla pure white, greenish white, bluish white, yellow, or purple, sometimes with tan or greenish yellow markings, radial, rotate, subrotate, or campanulate, stellate or 5-angled or -lobed; stamens inserted at base of corolla, equal [unequal], [with or without paired appendages at base of each filament]; anthers basifixed, oblong to lanceolate, dehiscing by longitudinal slits; ovary 2-carpellate; style cylindric, elongate, slender, usually longer than ovary [except in species with stylar heteromorphism]; stigma capitate. Fruits berries, globose or ovoid and elongated, dry to fleshy. Seeds (5–45), yellow to cream or brown, flattened, reniform or subreniform. x = 12, 13.

Species 40 (1 in the flora): s United States, Mexico, West Indies, Central America, South America (north of Amazon River); introduced nearly worldwide.

Capsicum is included in the subtribe Capsicinae (T. Yamazaki 1993), which is characterized chiefly by its prominent stapet (auriculate, bidenticulate, or winged appendages at the filament bases).

Capsicum is native in the Americas; some species are cultivated worldwide for food, spice, or medicine. In cultivation, Capsicum is typically a herbaceous annual with five- to eight-merous flowers. Two domesticated species have been introduced into the United States: C. annuum and C. baccatum var. pendulum (Willdenow) Eshbaugh. A. T. Hunziker (2001) considered the cultivated C. annuum, C. chinense, and C. frutescens species complex to be a single species, C. annuum. W. H. Eshbaugh (2012) discussed this issue at length and adopted Hunziker’s position.

SELECTED REFERENCES Eshbaugh, W. H. 2012. The taxonomy of the genus Capsicum (Solanaceae). In: V. M. Russo, ed. 2012. Peppers: Botany, Production and Uses. Wallingford. Pp. 14–22. Walsh, B. M. and S. B. Hoot. 2001. Phylogenetic relationships of Capsicum (Solanaceae) using DNA sequences from two noncoding regions: The chloroplast atpB-rbcL spacer region and the nuclear waxy introns. Int. J. Pl. Sci. 162: 1409–1418.

Lower Taxon


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