Capsicum annuum

If I had to pick a favourite plant family chances are it would be the Solanaceae – but don’t let me think about it too long as I might change my mind 😉

Origin(s) and distribution
And the capsicum genus is just as interesting. Let along the species “Capsicum annuum” counts more than 100 different varieties [1]! And they sure look different as well, not only what is commonly referred to as capsicum/paprika (the fruit), but also the leaves, in short the entire plant. Well, not surprisingly if you consider that C. annuum had been cultivated before the arrival of Christopher Columbus, already then often with local varieties. It is now thought that the origin of Capsicum annuum lies in Columbia and Southern Brazil [2], however, other sources [3] state Mexico. Wherever it might have been, today C. annuum is wide-spread – mainly thanks to Columbus!

Sorry, the pictures have a long loading time!

Apart from the aspect of varieties of species and an entire history of cultivation and spread around the world [for more on that see [4], there are (at least) two main aspects that should be mentioned when talking about C. annuum
– Capsaicin
– Vitamin C

Capsiacin
Searching for Capsaicin in PubMet confronts us with over 9000 entries (and I though C. annuum with a little more than 500 was a lot….)! Combining the two throws out a lot of articles on receptors and reasearch into neuroscience. Interesting though not the point here. Here we talk about capsaicinoids, those substances that we perceive as “hot”, pungent and associate with chilies.

MORE LATER

[1] Podlech, Herbs and Healing Plants of Britain & Europe; Europe, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2008
[2] http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/germ/Caps_ann.html
[3] http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capsicum_annuum
[4] Govindarajan, Capsicum production, technology, chemistry, and quality. Part 1: History, botany, cultivation, and primary processing; Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1985; 22(2):109-76

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