Height: 3 Feet
Prehistoric remains in Peru show that peppers existed then, and they were cultivated in Central and South America in very early times. Columbus brought them to Europe in 1493, and they were quickly adopted and cultivated. In fact, it was the Europeans that gave peppers their name. The only pepper they had known until that time was the black and white spice we still sprinkle out of our pepper shakers. When Columbus brought dried peppers back from the West Indies, Europeans said the fruit was “hotter than the pepper of the Caucasus,” the familiar table spice. The name “pepper” stuck, and we’ve been using it ever since.
In spite of sharing the same name, our table pepper and the sweet and hot peppers we grow are not related. The black and white pepper we grind is the seeds of the plant, Piper nigrum. Our garden peppers belong to the species Capsicum. Capsicum annuum, one group of the Capsicum species, accounts for most of the varieties grown in this country. Exceptions include the Tabasco and Habanero peppers, which belong to other species.