Growing peppers does not have to be difficult, but knowing how to identify pepper plants will play a role in meeting the needs of each variety. Peppers can grow to be small or large, sweet or hot, depending on the plant variety. For this reason, identifying the pepper plant being grown is vital in knowing what to expect. Identifying chile peppers involves a step-by-step process depending on the seeds, corolla, flowers, calyx and pedicels of the plant.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Identify the seeds of the pepper plant based on colour. If the seeds are dark, then the most likely species of chile pepper is the C pubescens pepper. The corolla of the plant, which describes the plant's petals, should be purple. If the seeds are a straw colour or the corolla is greenish white or just white, then this is not the species.
Identify the corolla of the plant. If diffuse yellow spots are present at the bases of each of the lobes, then the pepper plant is likely C baccatum. If there are no diffuse yellow spots at the bases of each of the lobes, move on to further identify the species. If the corolla is purple, the next step is to identify the flowers. If the corolla is white or a greenish white hue, the next step is to identify the calyx.
Identify the flowers of the chile pepper plant. If the flowers are solitary, then the pepper plant variety is C annuum. If the flowers are blossom with two or more at each of the nodes, then the pepper plant variety is C Chinense.
Identify the calyx of a mature fruit. If there is a ring-like or annular constriction where the calyx and the pedicel meet, then the pepper plant variety is C Chinense. If there is no annual constriction at this junction, then the next step is to address the plant's flowers. If the flowers are solitary, the next step is to go back to the corolla for more identification of characteristics.
Count the flowers at each node and take note of the corolla accordingly. If the flowers are solitary, look for a milky white corolla with straight lobes and pedicels that decline when the flower is completely open and functional. These details indicate a C annuum pepper plant. This pepper plant may also exhibit flowers blooming in groups of two or more in each of the nodes. If the corolla is a greenish white, and the lobes are slightly rolled backward, then the pepper plant variety is C frutescens.
Continue the pepper plant identification if more than two flowers are present at each node and the corolla is a greenish white rather than milky in colour. If the pedicels are erect when the flower is fully formed, then the pepper plant variety is C frutescens. If the pedicels are declining when the flower is fully formed and the lobes of the corolla are straight, then the pepper plant variety is C chinense.
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