The cultivated var. annuum
shows much variability, particularly with regard to the fruits. It is
a herb or subshrub, erect and much branched, 45-100 cm tall. It is usually
early maturing and is grown as an annual.
The strong tap root is usually broken or arrested in
growth on transplanting and numerous profusely branched laterals develops,
extending upto 1 m.
The main shoot is radial, but
later branches are cinchinnal, one of the branches at each node remaining
undeveloped and the subtending bract or bracts are adnate and are carried
up a lateral shoot to the node above.
The plant is glabrous to pubescent.
The simple leaves are very variable in size with the petiole 0.5-2.5
The lamina is broadly lanceolate
to ovate, entire and thin, 1.5-12.0. cm long and 0.5-7.5 cm wide; the
tip is acuminate and the base is cuneate or acute.
Crossing and setting
Flower is solitary, extra axillary sometimes occurs in pairs.
Flower is ebracteate actinomorphic, pedicellate, bisexual and hypogynous.
Calyx is capanulate, sepals usually five gamosepalous, and is shorter
Corolla is bell shaped rotate 5 to 6 lobed twisted in bud. Lobes are
thin veined and incurved in tips.
Androecium consists, intros, non-convenient.
Anthers dehis longitudinally by lateral sutures.
Carpel 2 syncarpous, obliquely placed.
Ovary superior 2 or 4 celled with numerous ovules in each locule on
swollen axile placentation.
Style is slender, terminal linear.
Stigma is subcapitate and faintly bifid.
Majority of the flowers open at 5 a.m. The stigma is receptive from
a day earlier to anthesis and continues for 2 days after anthesis.
The mean diameter of stigma is slightly greater than style. The pollen
grains are fertile day before anthesis with maximum fertility on the
day of anthesis.
In chilli plant emasculation and hybridization can be done simultaneously.
The chilli plant is often cross pollinated crop, and is visited by pollen
Natural cross pollination may go upto 50 per cent depending upon
extent of style exertion, time of dehiscence of anthers, wind direction
and insect population.
To maintain purity of chilli variety, a minimum isolation of 500 m
is considered safe. Chilli lines can be maintained by hand selfing or
caging the plants or bagging with perforated butter paper bag a side
branch with unopened buds.
Selfing the unopened buds a day prior to anthesis give satisfactory
results. For crossing, a bud one day prior to anthesis is ideal for
emasculation. It can be pollinated on the same day and the bud may be
wrapped by thin sheet of cotton which is slightly tightened by giving
a side twist.
In Karnataka except summer month, crossing and selfing could be attempted
with fair success throughout the day provided there is sufficient soil
moisture. It is essential to attempt crosses early in the flowering
period when there will be good success.
Days required for flowering in chilli crop mainly depends upon the
cultivar, temperature, light intensity and duration, soil moisture,
fertility status and age of the seedling at transplanting.
The flowering in Byadagi chilli commences 40 days after transplanting
with a peak flower production at 60 to 80 days after transplanting.
Peak flower production in chilli is influenced by soil moisture, soil
fertility and incidence of pest especially thrips and mites.
In Byadagi cultivar there are two peaks of flowering at 50 and 70
days after transplanting. But in sweet pepper peak flowering is observed
around 50 days after transplanting.
Cultivar differ considerable in days to flowering. Sweet pepper cultivar
Vinedale flowered in 27 days after transplanting while Ruby King took
43 days to flower.
In general, Capsicum annuum var. acuminatum and longum produce more
flowers than C. annuum var. grossum.
Cultivars Byadagi and Gowribidnur produces around 200 flowers while
sweet pepper, cultivar California wonder, Chinese giant, Ruby King produces
not more than 50 flowers per plant.
Percent fruit set in chilli ranges around 20 per cent of the flowers
The fruit in chilli is a berry. Unlike the usual berries, the seeds
are not embedded in fleshy pericarp. The fruits vary in shape, colour
and pungency. The pericarp in chilli fruit is leathery or succulent
which turns from green to purple or red, orange or orange red. The berry
develops from bicarpellary superior ovary and has an axile placentation.
The placenta carries numerous seeds. When fruits ripe pericarp begins
to dry. It is only in soft succulent types that pericarp gets rotted.
After anthesis fruits gradually increases in size and shape. Seeds
starts developing 15 days after anthesis. There is rapid development
of fruits from 15 to 35 days after anthesis. Fruits attain full maturity
around 35 days after anthesis and then fruit colour turns from green
to red or purple depending on variety. After maturity of fruits there
is loss of moisture. At full maturity, fruit (around 40 days after anthesis)
contains nearly 70 per cent moisture. The fruits start loosing moisture.
Some chilli cultivars have waxy pericarp and do not loose moisture quickly
and retain shiny nature for a long time. This character is desired especially
when chilli is marked for green purpose. Guntur selections G-3 and G-4
have waxy coating and remain fresh for a long time than Byadagi when
marketed for green chillies purposes.
In capsicum annuum var. acuminatum and longum fruits are long and
slender length may be 15 to 30 cm in Byadagi cultivar. There is a rapid
increase in fruit length from 2 to 11 cm from 7 to 14 days after anthesis
then there is gradually increase in length upto 15 cm around 35 days
after anthesis. The first picked fruits have longer fruits than late
pickings. The fruit length of Capsicum frutescens varies around 2 cm.
Shape of the fruit in Capsicum annuum var. grossum are bullnose, square
or semi-circular, wherein width and length may vary around 10 cm. The
thickness of pericarp may be papery as in Byadagi cultivar to 5 mm thick
in case of California Wonder.
Unripe fruits are green in colour however, sulfur and orange colour
are also observed. Mature fruit colour is blood red to brown. Purple
and orange colours are also observed as in Pure orange.
Fruit weight at maturity varies according to cultivars, time of harvest,
soil fertility and cultural management. First maturing fruits have higher
weight than later harvested fruits. Fresh ripe fruits of Iavangi weigh
less than a gram, Byadagi cultivar may weigh 2 to 3 grams, bell pepper
– California wonder may weigh around 40 grams. Fresh fruits of some
peppers especially hybrids may weigh even upto 300 grams. Fresh mature
fruits have about 70 per cent moisture content.
Higher seed content 25 to 50 per cent of dry fruits is observed in
Capsicum annuum var. acuminatum and longum than C.annuum var. grossum.
Seed content influences shape and size of fruits. Night temperature
influences seed content. Among the sweet pepper Chinese giant has higher
seed number 500 while Yolo wonder has the lowest 91 seed number per
fruit, seed number per fruit in California wonder is around 232 and
in Byadagi type cultivar Dh. 7-6-6 is around 70.
Major fruit components are seeds, pericarp, placenta and pedicel.
There is a great variation in the fruit components mainly due to cultivars
and climatic conditions. The components of ripe dry fruits of Byadagi
cultivar is stalk 5-6 per cent, dessepiment 1-3 per cent, pericarp 35-42
per cent and seeds 50-55 per cent. Components of sweet pepper on fresh
weight basis stalk 4-6 per cent, placenta 10-12 per cent, pericarp 70-80
per cent and seeds 5 to 7 per cent.
The most important quality characters in chillies are the pungency
and the colour. The pungent principle is Capsaicin C17H2703N. A major
gene determines the pungency but the polygenes acting in a cumulative
manner, both positive and negative determine the various degrees of
The pericarp contains almost all the pungency whereas the chilli seeds
contain only traces of pungency with a Capsaicin content of 0.005 per
cent. The capsacin content in red dry chillies varies between 0.7 to
0.9 %. Over 90 per cent of the capsacin found in the pericarp is found
in the dissepiment.
The red colour in chillies is mainly due to the carotenoid pigments.
Nearly 37 pigments have been isolated from capsicums . Of which capsanthin
is the major red pigment of chillies contributing towards 35 per cent
of the total pigments. The other major carotenoids which contribute
to red colour are capsolubin (6.4 %) and Zeaxanthin (2.3 %). Colour
of chillies under storage is affected by moisture content, temperature,
light and fat content of chilli seeds, 9-10 per cent of moisture is
better than lower or higher moisture. In general storage at higher temperature
increases the rate of colour degradation. Sunlight exhibits pronounced
effect in bleaching of colour and brings about maximum discoloration
of the red pigments in chillies. The presence of higher amounts of unsaturated
fat in chillies seeds lead to quicker deterioration of colour due to
Chilli seeds are compressed orbicular and minutely pitted. Diameter
of seed varies from 3 to 4 mm weighing around 6 mg. Seeds start developing
in fruit rapidly during 14 to 21 days after anthesis in Byadagi.
17 to 31 days in California wonder Viability of seeds commences 35
days after anthesis and increases upto full maturity upto 50 days after
A kilogram of seeds containing 120 to 170 thousand seeds. Increased
seed yield in California wonder has been observed with higher doses
of fertilizer (200 :112 75 kg) enhances root activities.
Root system of the chilli crop is highly branched with a tap root
at the centre. Root system resembles that of grasses. Chilli plants
withstand drought better than excess soil moisture. It has been observed
that chilli crop is more drought hardy than sorghum.
More over chilli picks up its growth after receipt of rains. Water
stagnation or saturated condition of soil for more than 24 hours is
highly detrimental to the chilli crop at any stage of its growth.
However, optimum moisture is essential at seedling establishment stage.
Capsicum terminology is still confusing. It is known in different
names in different parts of the world. The different names are pepper,
chili, chilli, chile, aji, axi, paprika and these names are used interchangeably
for plants in the genus Capsicum.
But the trade and scientific literature continue to use the term
“pepper” with various prefixes like red pepper, chilli pepper, bell
pepper, cayenne pepper to include colour, shape, size, pungency or source
of the spice.
This usage i.e., “pepper” has created much confusion in agricultural
and trade statistics for the black pepper (Piper nigrum) of Asia.
The term chilli is used in Britain. India, Africa etc. In United States
‘Capsicum’ is the official world.
However, British Standard Specification differentiates between chilies
and capsicum based on degree of pungency. But in the International trade,
there are only two groups i.e., “Chillies” the pungent group and Paprika
i.e., less pungent group.