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chili peppers

The Natural History of Chile Peppers
Image: iStockphoto.com/jrwasserman

The Natural History of Chile Peppers

The chile, or chili, pepper is the fruit of plants in the genus Capsicum. Natives of South America, chilis are now grown around the world. Different species contain varying amounts of capsaicin, the chemical compound that gives peppers their heat.

Heat ratings range from 0 in the bell pepper to more than a billion in the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. Explore the secrets of this fiery fruit.

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Elephant Crop Raids Foiled by Chili Peppers

Elephant Crop Raids Foiled by Chili Peppers

Elephants and farming are not a good combination. Discover how South African farmers use capsaicin from chili peppers to keep the mammoth mammals out of their crops. More...

Article
National Geographic
The Gut-Wrenching Science Behind the World’s Hottest Peppers

The Gut-Wrenching Science Behind the World’s Hottest Peppers

Contestants from around the world travel to remote northeastern India to compete in a contest to eat chilies rated at more than a million Scoville units. Read all the gory details here. More...

Article
Smithsonian
Why Do Chili Peppers Burn?

Why Do Chili Peppers Burn?

The “Moment of Science” crew explains how chili peppers confuse your brain into thinking your mouth is actually on fire! More...

Video
PBS
Chili: Small Fruit Sets Global Palettes on Fire

Chili: Small Fruit Sets Global Palettes on Fire

There are many different names for the chili pepper throughout the world, reflecting its global popularity. Explore the possible routes for the migration of this culinary and medicinal plant. More...

Article
YaleGlobal
Scientists Trace Origins of Domesticated Chili Pepper to East-Central Mexico

Scientists Trace Origins of Domesticated Chili Pepper to East-Central Mexico

Scientists now think the chili pepper was first domesticated in Mexico more than 6,500 years ago. Explore the evidence that led to the discovery. More...

Article
Sci-News.com
Scoville Scale

Scoville Scale

The heat from capsaicin in chili peppers and other plant chemicals can be rated with a subjective test developed in 1912 by Wilbur Scoville. Substances tested so far rate from 0 Scoville units to 16 billion! More...

Article
About.com
Top 10 Hottest Peppers in the World

Top 10 Hottest Peppers in the World

Wow everyone at your next family cookout with this awesome list. Take a survey to see who’s eaten what — but a tasting is not recommended! More...

Article
eHow
What’s So Hot About Chili Peppers?

What’s So Hot About Chili Peppers?

Ecologist Josh Tewksbury has made it his life’s work to discover why some chili peppers in the wild developed intense heat. Follow his chili hunt into the Bolivian jungle. More...

Profile
Smithsonian
Why Do Chili Peppers Taste Hot?

Why Do Chili Peppers Taste Hot?

How can something that’s odorless and flavorless pack so much heat? Discover the cascade of symptoms unleashed by the substance that gives chili peppers their pep. More...

Article
Live Science

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