Herbs & Plants

Capsicum pubescens

Botanical Name: Capsicum pubescens
Family: Solanaceae
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Solanales
Genus: Capsicum
Species: C. pubescens

*Brachistus lanceifolius Miers
*Capsicum annuum var. violaceum Voss
*Capsicum lanceifolium (Miers) Kuntze

Common Names: Tree Pepper, Rocoto

Habitat: Capsicum pubescens is native to Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador and dates back to pre-Incan times; traces of its presence have been found in the Guitarrero Caves.

Like all other species of the genus Capsicum, plants of the species Capsicum pubescens grow as a shrub, but sometimes as climbing plants. They grow into four-meter woody plants relatively quickly, and live up to 15 years, which gives them, especially with age, an almost tree-like appearance. After a first impulse is formed, the plant branches at a height of about 30 cm for the first time, and forms during growth by further dividing into a bushy appearance. More shoots develop from the leaf axils. Some varieties have purple discoloration on the branches, as can be observed in other Capsicum species. The leaves have a 5–12 mm long petiole and a leaf blade ovate to 5–12 cm long, 2.5 to 4 cm wide, tapering at the top and the base is wedge-shaped.


In addition to the relatively long life, Capsicum pubescens differs in many other characteristics from related species.

The flowers appear singly or in pairs (rarely up to four) on the shoots, and the branches are at about 1 cm long flower stems, which extend on the fruit to around 4–5 cm. The calyx has five triangular pointed teeth, which have in the fruit a length of about 1 mm. A characteristic different from other cultivated species of the genus Capsicum is the blue-violet-colored petals, brighter in the centre. The anthers are partly purple, partly white.

Requires a very warm sunny position and a fertile well-drained soil. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.3 to 8.3. This species is only likely to be hardy in the milder areas of Britain, it can tolerate temperatures down to at least -5°c. It might be possible to get it to fruit outdoors in the mildest areas of the country, especially if given the protection of a sunny wall. Plants are able to continue fruiting for 15 years in cool moist climates.

Edible Uses:
Fruit – raw or cooked. The distinctive thick-fleshed pungent fruits are used as a vegetable condiment or made into a sauce. A hot pungent flavour, it is mainly used as a flavouring in cooked foods. In Peru the seeds are removed, the fruit stuffed with a savoury filling and then baked. The fruit can be dried and ground into a powder for use as a pepper-like condiment.

Medicinal Uses:
The hot and pungent fruit is antihaemorrhoidal when taken in small amounts, antirheumatic, antiseptic, diaphoretic, digestive, irritant, rubefacient, sialagogue and tonic. It is taken internally in the treatment of the cold stage of fevers, debility in convalescence or old age, varicose veins, asthma and digestive problems. Externally it is used in the treatment of sprains, unbroken chilblains, neuralgia, pleurisy etc. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Capsicum for muscular tension, rheumatism etc.

Other Uses: The growing plant repels insects

Known Hazards: Although no reports have been seen for this species, many plants in this family produce toxins in their leaves. The sap of the plant can cause the skin to blister. Avoid in patients taking monoamine oxidase inhibitor antidepressants and antihypertensive drugs.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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