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  Morphology

Plant > Fruit > Seed > Growth > Terminology >


Morphology

Plant

  • 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.

Root

  • The strong tap root is usually broken or arrested in growth on transplanting and numerous profusely branched laterals develops, extending upto 1 m.

Shoot

  • 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.

Leaves

  • The plant is glabrous to pubescent. The simple leaves are very variable in size with the petiole 0.5-2.5 cm long.
  • 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.

Flower Biology

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 than fruit.
  • 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 carrying insects.
  • 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 produced.

 
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Ka English

Fruit

  • 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 pungency.
  • 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 oxidation.

 
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Ka English

Seeds

  • 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 anthesis.
  • 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.

 
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Ka English

Growth

Seedling Stage

  • Chillies is a slow growing annual.

Vegetative Stage

  • Normally it is raised in nursery and transplanted within 40-45 days.

Flowering Stage

  • Flowering starts within 30-40 days after transplanting

Maturity

  • Fruits start to mature within another 30-35 days and are ready for harvest.
Phase of the crop

Duration (Days)

Seedling

40

Vegetative

45 - 70

Flowering

70 - 110

Maturity

110 - 210

Harvest

  • In warm weather, early crop varieties mature in 3-4 months, most other crop varieties require 4-5 months.
  • Fruits are harvested manually, every 7 days. Again, since plants are brittle, care must be taken when removing fruit.
  • Fruit usually removed with stem of fruit attached to fruit.
  • Harvest continues until frost or adversity. Vegetable chillies are harvested green or red for fresh consumption and shipped immediately to market.
  • Like tomatoes, green or red chillies may be ripened artificially. Temperature between 21.5oC and 25oC is best for ripening.
  • At 0oC chillies may be kept in good condition for about 30 days or more, with 95-98% relative humidity.
  • Both cross and self-pollination occurs in chillies.
  • Honeybees and ants are the main pollinators.
  • Harvest is once in seven days and as many as ten to twenty pickings are normally made.

Yield

  • The yield may be about 7 to 9 t/ha of green pungent chillies and 10-12 t/ha of non-pungent sweet types.
  • Generally 1 to 1.5 kg of fresh green chillies are obtained from a single plant.



 
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Ka English

Capsicum terminology

  • 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.

 
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