Some interesting peppers
#1. "Duke Pequin" Capsicum frutescens
[I've owed Fatalii some better images of this one, so I'll be going a little overboard with
the photos. He can also find larger versions of these images and others at http://www.duke.edu/~mturner/
"I didn't know that peppers could grow on trees"
That is a comment I've heard when visitors first see large plants of this variety.
They can become tall shrubby plants, and indeed are more "treelike" than most
Second- and third-year plants can be over 2m high.
It is definitely a plant that improves with age. Overwintered 2nd season and older plants
are much more productive than first-season seedlings. The latter produce relatively few
fruit, and those only late in the season, but overwintered plants can be very productive
over the entire season.
Fruits and flowers on a branch of a 2nd or 3rd season plant.
Fruits are very small,
hot, and have plenty of tabasco-like flavor. They can be used fresh or frozen,
or as a sauce or powder.
It's of unknown origin, but was grown in the Duke University greenhouse since at
least the 1970s as "66-316. Pequin pepper. Capsicum annuum
. Mexico." Despite the
label, it is plainly a rather primitive "bird pepper" type of Capsicum frutescens
think it might be hard to find a more "typical" representative of C. frutescens
In 2004, I rescued the original plant and have since propagated several others from
it by seed and cuttings. They've been overwintered in a greenhouse each year.
I've experimented a bit with its culture, growing some outdoors in shady sites and others
in full sun. A few were cut back as severely as I've seen people recommend doing to
overwintered pepper plants, but most were not.
The original plant has been kept relatively compact.
The 20 liter container is 36cm [14"] tall; this plant is a little over 1m high and broad.
Other plants are over twice its size.
During the 2008 season this one was grown in a strongly shaded site, but still
produced hundreds of fruits [many from interspecific hybrid pollinations]:
The scarred trunk of the oldest plant is now over 4cm diameter.
This pepper may be a good bonsai subject.
It has typical C. frutescens
flowers: small, with greenish-white corollas, dark anthers,
and the flowers bent over at the tips of erect flower stalks.
Flowers are in pairs, especially on vigorous shoots.
flowers and ripe and ripening fruits
Another fruiting branch
Fruiting branch from a plant grown in full sun.
Like other wild and semi-wild peppers, the ripe fruit separates easily
from the calyx and stalk.
The calyx of the fruit has a constricted, cylindrical shape with a corresponding
nipple-like constriction of the base of the fruit. This may be a distinctive feature of C. frutescens
, but I haven't seen it discussed elsewhere.
Ripe fruits picked one afternoon in mid-season 2008.
details of same, showing constricted base of the fruit.
For a few week period beginning soon after the above photos were made, birds
started taking nearly all of the ripe fruits from these plants [as well as my
chiltepins, etc.]. But by then, I had already frozen more than I could use.
It seems best to avoid cutting back overwintered plants of this variety too
The above shows one plant that was cut back to its main branches. There is plenty
of vigorous new growth, but sparse flowers and delayed fruiting; the new shoots
resemble first-season plants. Such heavy pruning may be useful to reshape and
rejuvenate an old plant, but less severe cutting of this variety allows it to form
densely branched crowns of smaller leaves, and bearing hundreds of flowers and
fruits over a long season.
I should mention that "Duke Pequin" seeds are available athttp://fatalii.shop.wosbee.com/PublishedService