...as in "hairy" like peppers. First commented upon in 1794 by Ruiz and Pavon and thought to have been first used domestically some 6,000 years ago. Morphologically, these are unlike any other domesticated pepper having brown/black seeds. Genetically, this species has no wild form, it is however very closely related to a group of wild species including Capsicum eximium (Bolivia and northern Argentina), Capsicum cardenasii (Bolivia) and Capsicum tovarii (Peru). This may be due to the fact that this species cannot cross-pollinate with other Capsicum species, thus reducing its genetic diversity over time. The most common cultivar is the Rocoto peppers. Heat levels up to 50,000 SHU.
Pronounced as 'pugh-BES-enz'.
Flowers solitary at each node. Pedicels erect at anthesis but flowers nodding. Corolla is purple (occasionally with white margins to lobes and/or white tube), without diffuse spots at base of lobes (though a drop of yellow nectar may accumulate in this position and simulate a corolla spot) [flower is purple with a tiny white border]; corolla lobes usually straight. Calyx of mature fruit without annular constriction at junction with pedicel, veins prolonged into teeth. Fruit flesh firm. Seeds dark in colour. Chromosome number 2n=24, with one pair of acrocentric chromosomes, e.g. Rocoto (Andes). Capsicum pubescens does not cross-pollinate with other Capsicum species, thus reducing the genetic diversity of this species. Only grows and thrives in a very narrow temperature range.
Yellow Rocoto flower © John Taylor
Red Rocoto flower © John Taylor
Subdivisions & Synonyms