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PlantFiles: Chili Pepper, Hot Pepper, Chile Petin, Chile Piquin (Pequin), Bird Pepper
Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum

Family: Solanaceae (so-lan-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Capsicum (KAP-sih-kum) (Info)
Species: annuum var. glabriusculum

Synonym:Capsicum annuum var. aviculare
Synonym:Capsicum hispidum var. glabriusculum

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32 members have or want this plant for trade.

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18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

Sun Exposure:
Partial to Full Shade

Heat (Pungency):
Extremely Hot (above 30,000 Scoville Units)

Fruit Shape:

Fruit Size:
Small (under 2" in length)

Fruit Color:
Green changing to red
Green changing to orange

Disease Resistance:
Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV)
Potato Virus Y (PVY)
Phytophthora Blight
Tobacco Etch Virus (TEV)
Bacterial Leaf Spot (BLS), Race 1
Bacterial Leaf Spot (BLS), Race 2
Bacterial Leaf Spot (BLS), Race 3
Pepper Mottle Virus (PepMV)
Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV)

Seed Type:

Fresh (salsa, salads)

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Days to Maturity:
Mid (69-80 days)
Late (more than 80 days)

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There are a total of 8 photos.
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19 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive tpotter72 On Aug 30, 2014, tpotter72 from Helotes, TX wrote:

I have several Chili Petin bushes that have come up wild at my home in Helotes. The peppers have always been green then turn to red. I currently have one that is growing right next to a traditional plant that has pearl white peppers. Has anyone ever seen this before?

Positive pdthomas On Dec 1, 2013, pdthomas from Cedar Creek, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

We have a large chile petin plant growing by our fence and it is very pretty when covered with peppers. It seems that the more you pick from the bush- the more peppers and blooms you see in the future. I have picked several gallons from my 5 ft bush this year alone and the neighbor invited me to pick the peppers from his yard as well. I was amazed at the size of the plant in his yard- the woody stem resembles a tree trunk and all the peppers are at the top of the bush- which stands over 6 ft tall. I am planning to try to get some seedlings started this year- hoping something will germinate.

Positive bakerd1970 On May 27, 2013, bakerd1970 from Corpus Christi, TX wrote:

I've grown Piquin Peppers now for about 25 years. Many people have asked me if there is a difference between picking and cooking with the peppers while they are green, black, or red. My answer is that it really depends on your palate. Personally, I don't taste a difference, although my husband says that he feels that the red ones aren't as hot. Currently, I have three grown plants that are producing many chiles. In order not to loose any of this goodness, since I can't eat them as fast as they grow, I pick the ones that are ready for harvest, de-stem them and store them in a mason jar in the freezer. This keeps them as fresh as the day I picked them. If I plan to use them as a condiment, I'll just run some warm water over them and grind them in my mortise and pestal, add a couple of tablespoons of water, along with salt, pepper, garlic, cumin and its ready for the table. Believe me, a little goes a long way!

Positive meschow On Oct 10, 2012, meschow from Hot Springs National Park, AR wrote:

This is my first year to raise PEQUIN peppers. The birds steal them from me, so I have been picking just before they turn red. Will the peppers taste differently if I wait until they are red?

Positive grebetrees On Mar 14, 2012, grebetrees from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Thanks to birds, is cute little pepper regularly volunteers in my yard. I have also seen it volunteer elsewhere in Austin, usually growing in partly shady areas.

Positive chickenlady1 On Jan 29, 2012, chickenlady1 from Tallahassee, FL wrote:

I live in Tallahassee, Fl.
I bought my bird from our local native nursery in early spring. It became loaded with so mauy peppers! I move it into my garage when the weather is bad and move it out when temps.are up above 55 and the sun is out.
Heres a true story to share with you. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
My friend wanted a hand full of each of all the peppers I was growing and she put ia Bird in her mouth before I was able to tell her hot hot they were. She was spitting and cursing like no other. Let me tell you, I don't think I have laughed that hard too many times in my life!
I did not know the scoville heat unit at that time but later on looked it up. Now I know why she reacted the way she did! Maybe next time she will wait till I tell her before taking them or maybe just not touch MY peppers!

Positive MeroMero On Mar 14, 2010, MeroMero from San Antonio, TX wrote:

I've also managed to germinate seeds on a heating pad in a "soil-less" starter pellets, BUT I really think that the germination rate is much higher if a bit of manure is mixed in with the soil/potting mix. Superstition or not, I really believe that there is something to the idea that the seeds do better with some sort of biological "catalyst"...whether it's a bird or cow manure. As a home gardener who doesn't have lots of space, this is how I've done it in the past:
-Fill a large terra cotta container with potting soil, mixing in a cup of cattle manure (or other) into the top couple of inches of soil.
-Plant a "kitchen friendly" companion plant in the same container whose roots aren't all that intrusive. Multiplying onions are my personal favorite.
-Gently crush the dried chiles between your fingers and lightly mix the seeds (skins and all) into the top of the surrounding soil. Use lots of seeds as the germination rate is naturally low. Water through.
-Forget about your chile seeds and enjoy the onions. The chiles will emerge when they're ready, likely in late spring or early summer.
-Transplant the chile plant when they first develop woody stems into well-drained soil with plenty of sun. They also like being planted along a brick or stucco wall. Here in Texas, the only thing I've found that can kill them is heavy clay soil.
-Treat them with relative neglect and you'll soon have thousands of bright red chiles on a plant that more resembles a tree than a bush.

Positive TheOtherDave On Feb 6, 2010, TheOtherDave from Georgetown, TX wrote:

This is a tough pepper that I transplanted from Victoria County in South Texas to my home in the Hill Country of Central Texas. It freezes back but returns. I do try to mulch heavily around the base and even wrap the base for extra protection in the hardest freezes. It comes back but we'll see if mine survived the 12 degree temperatures we have had this winter. I have seen hundreds of these plants in areas of the lower Guadalupe River bottom with only peppers on the top of the plant. All others had been eaten by Turkeys. It also re-seeds on its own. It's hot and I love it.

Positive manda5656 On Jan 3, 2010, manda5656 from Okeechobee, FL wrote:

I have recently found one of these plants growing wild along the fence in the back yard. I would like to add it to my garden. For those of you who have experience with this plant, should I transplant it? or pick some of the chili's, clean out the seeds, and try to grow some from scratch? Thanks!

Positive WillowWasp On Jul 5, 2009, WillowWasp from Jones Creek, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I use to belive this plant would only grow if passed throught a bird first.........LOL Because you only find it on fence lines.
I have been able to germinate a few since then so I now know a bird has nothing to do with the germination...still LOL

Great addition to the garden.

Positive eatmyplants On Mar 23, 2009, eatmyplants from Comanche county, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

This pepper grows wild in some places here. It's sowed by the birds. It dies back in the winter and resprouts from the crown. I noticed just today that the plants are starting to put out new leaves.

Positive Zuel3151 On Feb 9, 2008, Zuel3151 from Bertram, TX wrote:

I work for the county. As such, I travel the many county roads. We have found at least 3 locations where Chiltepin grow. They are always in, or next to other larger plants or trees. They are always in a low spot which gets more water. I have two transplanted to around my house and one small one that I put in a pot and kept inside my house until the ground is warm enough to transplant. It is growing just fine since I was able to get the whole ball and roots. I still have a few dried Chiltepin berries that I am hoarding until the next harvest. I usually eat 3 or 4 with lunch. You may get one or two that aren't very hot. The next one will take the top of your head off!

Positive dfwdennis On Apr 25, 2007, dfwdennis from Grapevine, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Four years ago I transplanted a wild plant from my mother-in-law's property in Beeville, TX. It dies to the ground in winter but has come back stronger every year, and has been a prolific producer. Last year it was about 3 feet high and wide. It is very attractive when it is covered with chiles.

Positive tmccullo On Aug 18, 2006, tmccullo from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

We bought a small plant from a produce market here in Houston. The plant is about 1 year old and has produced lots of peppers. It even produced peppers through the winter and suffered no damage. Our plant looks like a very bushy 3' shrub now.

Positive grebe On Jun 5, 2006, grebe from Dayton, TX wrote:

I have it growing in my garden now for 2 years. I, also, have it growing in a pot in the greenhouse.

Positive melody On Jan 25, 2005, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Extremely hot little peppers. They are pretty much care free in the garden and produce a gazillion little fire balls on each plant.

Attractive to birds, as many stated above, they will be quite at home in the flowerbed or in the veggie patch.

These peppers are extremely hot....the size is misleading. Care should be taken when cooking with hem, as you can add more than you can stand in a hurry.

Positive MonkeyArcher On Apr 20, 2004, MonkeyArcher from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

Great plant, makes a small 'tree', about 2 ft tall. My best success withthis plant has always been with self planting. Any that I plant grow for about one season, then die. Next year I discover a new chili growing nearby, and this one will keep growing for years and years. Odd, but true.

The chilis are very useful for adding heat, as previously noted, but it should also be noted that they should not be under-estimated. It takes only a few chilis to season a whole pot.

It should also be noted that, while I am not entirely sure about botanically, but the Chiltepin and the Chilpequin are two deifferent things. The Chilitepin has round chilis and are much more expensive to buy in stores, while the Chilpequin is smaller and more oblong in shape. Since I have always grown my own Chiltepines, I don't use the Chilpequin and can't tell you anything about any flavor difference they may have.

Also the Chiltepin is also available in a purple variety, which has purple flowers, stems and chilis, as well as purple tinted leaves.

Positive htop On Sep 29, 2003, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, Tx.
This pepper plant is a nice addition to any flower bed with its deep green foliage, small white flowers, deep green immature fruit and bright red mature fruit. It requires little care. I have had one growing in my yard for 20 years. The birds, especially mockingbirds, DO LOVE the fruit (birds have no "hot" taste sensors). If transplanting, but careful to dig up all of the tap root. The plant will wilt until it reestablishes itself. Just keep it well watered until it does.

Positive IslandJim On Aug 30, 2003, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

The bird pepper is an excellent source of heat and sharp pepper flavor. Mashed and mixed in otherwise bland foods, such as scrambled eggs, they add zest that is hard to beat. Three of them in a crock-pot pot roast will make an exceptional dish. And don't forget the mockingbirds. My plant keeps two female mockingbirds constantly squabbling over rights to the harvest.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Chandler, Arizona
Glendale, Arizona
Goodyear, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona (2 reports)
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Bostonia, California
Gainesville, Florida
Okeechobee, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Venice, Florida
Boise, Idaho
Benton, Kentucky
Hessmer, Louisiana
Slaughter, Louisiana
Mount Laurel, New Jersey
Mason, Ohio
Adkins, Texas
Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas (4 reports)
Belton, Texas
Bertram, Texas
Boerne, Texas
Brownwood, Texas
Cedar Creek, Texas
Corpus Christi, Texas (2 reports)
Cypress, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Dayton, Texas
De Leon, Texas
Dripping Springs, Texas
Elgin, Texas (2 reports)
Fort Worth, Texas (2 reports)
Freeport, Texas
Georgetown, Texas
Gonzales, Texas
Grapevine, Texas
Harlingen, Texas
Houston, Texas (4 reports)
La Grange, Texas (2 reports)
Laredo, Texas
Liberty Hill, Texas
Mcallen, Texas
Midland, Texas
Mission, Texas
New Caney, Texas
Port Isabel, Texas
Progreso, Texas
Rio Hondo, Texas
Round Rock, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (4 reports)
Streetman, Texas
Terlingua, Texas
Victoria, Texas
Wimberley, Texas
Orem, Utah

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