The pepper plant belongs to the botanical family of Solanaceae and to the genus Capsicum, which includes various species. The Capsicum annuum is the most cultivated and includes both the spicy varieties, the common red pepper, and the sweet pepper. The chili pepper is a shrub with an erect height between 40 and 80 cm. Its fruits are oblong berries, full of seeds, initially green which, as they mature, turn red, passing through intermediate shades of yellow and orange. Other widespread species are C. frutescens and C. chinense. The plant was imported into Europe after the discovery of America, becoming a common vegetable. Its characteristic spicy taste is due to a substance called capsaicin. The plant can also be cultivated in pots, sowing in February in the central-southern regions and in March in the north. The peppers will be harvested in summer and autumn.
Pink pepper plant
Pink pepper is produced from an evergreen tree whose scientific name is Schinus molle. Originally from South America, it is also commonly called false pepper in that the resemblance to pepper is due only to flavor and not to similar botanical characteristics. The plant, about 6 meters high and with aromatic leaves, has a structure that resembles that of the willow and has no particular cultivation requirements, in fact it develops even on poor soil and does not require fertilizer. Its berries, small, pink and spherical, with a delicate taste, are used as a spice, however they cannot be consumed in large quantities because they would be toxic. Pink pepper is consumed in the Creole mixture which also includes black pepper, white pepper, green pepper and allspice. The pink pepper plant is grown in the ground only in southern Italy.
The pepper plant
The black pepper plant (Piper nigrum) belongs to the Piperaceae family. Its very aromatic dried fruits are used as a spice, one of the most common in Europe. The origin of the plant is tropical, particularly from India. The typical spicy taste is due to the substance called piperine. The plant is a woody liana of about 4 meters in height. The fruit is a drupe, 5 mm, with a single seed, green at the beginning and then dark red when ripe. On the market we find various products derived from the plant. Among these we have the classic, and more widespread, black pepper, produced starting from the unripe fruit, which is immersed in boiling water and then dried. White pepper comes only from the seed, without the fruit pulp. Instead, the green pepper, always dried, maintains its original color thanks to the treatment with sulfur dioxide.
Bonsai pepper plant
The bonsai pepper plant is cultivated starting from plant species other than Piper nigrum, that is, pepper properly so called. One of these plants is the Sichuan pepper, with berries and leaves that resemble those of pepper. Originally from China and Japan, it has the botanical name of Zanthoxylum piperitum and a proportionate and elegant bearing. Another plant used for this type of bonsai is the Schinus molle, the already described pink pepper. Probably, however, the most common species on the Italian and European market are the Sophora prostrata (Little baby) and the Operculicaria decaryi. The first is a New Zealand evergreen shrub with small round leaves and a very branched habit. The Operculicaria is native to Madagascar, very similar to the Sophora from which it differs for the stem with more marked roughness.