<< Back to Questions
Pepper Varieties & Species - the many different types / kinds of hot peppers!
There are thousands of varieties of peppers worldwide! They come in a wide range of colors, flavors, shapes, heat levels and sizes. From small compact plants, to giant monsters that can get over 9 feet tall, with peppers ranging in size from a tiny fraction of an inch to over a foot long, and coming in nearly every color of the rainbow!
All chile peppers are various species of the genus Capsicum of the plant family Solanaceae, and are thus related to eggplants and tomatoes (They are not related to black pepper, which comes from the family Piperaceae.)
There are currently over thirty different known species of chile pepper. The majority of these are actually "wild" pepper species (found growing primarily in South America), including the C. cardenasii, C. eximium and C. chacoense.
Only five of the pepper species are widely domesticated. They are -
C. annuum (meaning "annual", a misnomer, as peppers are actually perennials)
This is by far the largest domesticated species, both in the number of different varieties, as well as the most widely cultivated worldwide. They include many of the most common and best-known pepper varieties, such as Jalapeno, Poblano/Ancho, Serrano, Cayenne, Bell Pepper, Peperoncini and Anaheim/NuMex Peppers. This species also includes some of the more unique pepper varieties, such as the unusual Peter Pepper, as well as the magnificent Bolivian Rainbow.
C. baccatum (meaning "berry-like")
This unusual species is grown primarily in South America, where it is referred to locally as "Aji". . This species includes such peppers as the Aji Amarillo, Aji Colorado, Aji Andean and Lemon Drop.
C. chinense (meaning "from China", a misnomer, as they originated in the Amazon)
This species includes some of the world's hottest peppers. . Most peppers in this species are extremely hot (one notable exception to this rule is Aji Dulce, which has the habanero flavor but with little or no heat!) This species includes the Habanero, Scotch Bonnet, Datil, Fatalii, and Billy Goat.
C. frutescens (meaning "bushy")
Not as many varieties of this exists or are domestically grown as some of the other pepper species. This species includes the world-famous Tabasco Pepper, as well as the Zimbabwe Bird Pepper, the Cambodian Angkor Sunrise and the Brazilian Malagueta.
C. pubescens (meaning "hairy")
These rare peppers are characterized by "furry" leaves, as well as unusually-shaped black or dark brown seeds which are unique to this particular species. This species includes Peruvian Rocotos, Bolivian Locotos and Mexican Manzanos.
Pepper Variety Names
Pepper variety names are not all standardized and can sometimes seem a bit perplexing. Sometimes the same pepper may be called by different names, depending on where it is grown, it's condition, and how it is prepared (this is particularly true for Mexican varieties). For example, the exact same pepper is called a PoblPoblano when used fresh, and Ancho when dried. Or a Jalapeno Pepper, when smoked, is called a Chipotle Pepper.
In addition to species and variety names, peppers are also broadly categorized as either sweet peppers or hot peppers. Sweet peppers (a misnomer, not all are sweet) refers to those without any heat, typically used for flavoring, cooking or stuffing. Examples include Bell Pepper, Apple Pepper and Lipstick Pepper. Hot peppers refer to those that taste hot, and can range from the relatively mild Anaheim to the blazingly hot Habanero
Anaheim Chile; California Green Chile; Long Green Pepper; Chile Verde; (When Mature And Red - Chile Colorado; California Red Chile
Banana Pepper, Banana Chile, Sweet Banana Pepper, Pimento
Cayenne Pepper = Finger Chili = Ginnie Pepper = Bird Pepper
Cherry Pepper, Hungarian Cherry Pepper, Bird Cherry Pepper, Creole Cherry Pepper
Chipotal, Dried Jalapeno Peppers
Poblano Pepper (Fresh), Ancho Chile(Dried Version
Scotch Bonnet Chile
Thai Chile = Bird Pepper = Thai Bird Chile = Pick Chi A = Thai Jalapeno