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a number of plant species of the genus Capsicum of the family Solanaceae. Capsicums are perennial subshrubs; they are cultivated as annual vegetable plants. The branching stem has a woody base and measures from 30 to 130 cm high. The entire leaves have long or short stalks and are solitary or gathered into rosettes; they range in color from green to dark olive. The large, axillary flowers are solitary or in fascicles. The corolla is violet, white, or greenish (sometimes with a yellow base and violet tinge). The fruits are hollow many-seeded berries; they are red, orange, yellow, or brown and range in shape and weight (from 0.25 to 190 g).
Capsicums grow wild in the tropical regions of America. The plants are cultivated in the temperate, subtropical, and tropical southern latitudes of all continents.
Capsicums require heat and moisture. The optimal temperature for growth and development is 18°–25°C. The plants grow best on highly fertile, structured soils. There are four cultivated species: C. angulosum, C. conicum, C. pubescens, and C. annuum; the last species is most common. In the USSR, C. annuum is grown in the Ukraine, the Northern Caucasus, Transcaucasia, Moldavia, and Middle Asia; it is cultivated everywhere on protected and heated soil. It has small fruits when cultivated as a house plant. Varieties have been developed for the open ground in central regions. The fruits are used as food at the stage of biological and, more often, market ripeness.
The mature fruit of C. annuum contains 4–8.5 percent sugar, approximately 1.5 percent proteins, up to 14 mg percent of carotene, 125–300 mg percent vitamin C, and small amounts of vitamins B1 and B2. There are sweet and bitter varieties. The bitterness is caused by the fruit’s content of the alkaloid capsaicine, which ranges from 0.007 to 1.9 percent. The fruits are canned and used in cooking; the bitter variety is used as a spice.
Capsicums are grown in hotbeds or, in the south, by sowing the seeds in the open ground. The seeds are sown in seedbeds and hothouses 45 to 55 days (in the northern regions, 60 to 75 days) prior to transplanting. Between 40,000 and 60,000 plants are cultivated per hectare (ha); square planting (70 X 70 cm) or row cultivation is used. Maintenance includes interrow tillage, application of fertilizer, and watering. The bitter varieties are harvested twice, when the fruits turn red; the sweet varieties are picked four to 15 times per summer, at the stage of market ripeness. The harvest of bitter capsicum is up to 200 quintals per ha, and the harvest of sweet capsicum is up to 300 quintals per ha. As much as 12 kg per sq m is harvested from protected soil. Pests include the beet armyworm, the bollworm, and nematodes. Diseases include molds, viruses, and wilts.
REFERENCESGazenbush, V. L. “Perets.” In Sorta ovoshchnykh kul’tur SSSR. Moscow-Leningrad, 1960.
Milovanova, L. “Biokhimiia pertsa.” In Biokhimiia ovoshchnykh kul’tur. Moscow-Leningrad, 1961.
V. L. GAZENBUSH