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Capsicum annuum ‘Explosive Ember’

Ornamental pepper

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderSolanalesPotatoes, eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, tobacco, petunias, sweet potatoes, morning glories, many others
FamilySolanaceaeNightshade or potato family
GenusCapsicumFrom Greek κάπτω, kapto, “to bite”
Cultivar‘Explosive Ember’

About plant names...

Cayenne peppers are natives of southern North America and northern South America. Most of the peppers we eat or grow as ornamentals are cultivated from this species, including anchos, banana peppers, cayennes, de árbols, guajillos, jalapeños, anaheims, Italian sweets, pasillas, peperoncinis, pimentos, poblanos, serranos, and tabascos. (A few, habaneros among them, have other origins.) The 'Black Pearl' cultivar was developed by the U.S. National Arboretum, as an ornamental plant.

If you are curious as to the origins of cayenne peppers, consider Kraig Harris Kraft's 2009 dissertation on the subject, The domestication of the chile pepper, Capsicum annuum: Genetic, ecological, and anthropogenic patterns of genetic diversity.

Identification: These peppers are perennials in warm climates, but they must be replanted from seeds in cooler climes. They are 10-14″ (25-35 cm) high, and 8-10″ (20-25 cm) around. New foliage is bright purple. Leaves are oblong-ovate, ovate, or ovate-lanceolate, about 1-2″ (2.5-5 cm) long, and black. Flowers are white and purple. Fruits are bright red, about ¾-1″ (1.9-2.5 cm) long, generally upward-pointing.

Edibility: Like most small chili peppers, these are edible and very hot—about 30,000 Scoville units—in the range of tobasco. (Note: not all ornamental peppers are edible though.)

Online References:

Nature’s Best Masked Flower Images



CalPhotos (Capsicum annuum)

The Missouri Botanical Garden

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (Capsicum annuum)

Wikipedia (Capsicum annuum)

EFloras (Capsicum annuum)


Fayaz, Ahmed, Encyclopedia of Tropical Plants: Identification and Cultivation of Over 3000 Tropical Plants, Firefly Books, 2011, p. 663

Graf, Alfred Byrd, Exotic Plant Manual: Fascinating Plants to Live With—Their Requirements, Propagation, and Use, Roehrs Company, 1974, p. 386


Capsicum annuum ‘Explosive Ember’ description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Capsicum annuum (ornamental pepper)

9/7/2010 · Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston, Mass­a­chu­setts · ≈ 8 × 12″ (20 × 31 cm)

Range: Zones 10-11:

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