This year we’re growing a number of wild chilli species and varieties – they’re unlike the familiar bell peppers (Capsicum annuum) or other chillies one might have tasted. There are at least 26 species in the Capsicum genus, 5 of them are domesticated (C. annuum, C. chinense, C. baccatum, C. frutescens and C. pubescens), however, just some varieties of the first two species are available in Europe. I was told by fellow chilliheads from paprikos.lt that only C. annuum seeds can be legally approved to be sold in Lithuania. Of course, we’re more curious than that..

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C. lanceolatum – a rare wild chilli from Guatemalan cloud forests, thought to be extinct for more than 50 years.  No heat, 13 pairs of chromosomes – we’ll try to count them at the biolab!

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Cumari Pollux (C. praetermissum) – wild chillies from Brazil that are slowly being domesticated.

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C. rhomboideum is a large-growing, distant species of Capsicums which has no heat and unusual yellow flowers!

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C. chacoense is native to Argentina/Chile/Bolivia/Paraguay,  is rather hot and has 12 chromosome pairs.

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C. eximium is one of the Capsicums with purple flowers. It hails from the Andes.

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Aji Charapita (C. chinense) comes from the jungles in Peru.

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Our Chiltepin (C. annuum) from the last summer is flowering at the moment! These small spicy berries are the predecessors of the vast majority of peppers people eat and grow in Europe.

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A Pequin, another wild C. annuum we’re overwintering at Technarium. There are a few more wild peppers, but we didn’t take their pictures this time.

More about evolutionary history and genetics of Capsicums can be find here and here [.pdf].