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  • Author or Editor: Peter H. Cooke x
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Chile peppers (Capsicum sp.) are one of the most important spices in the world and a significant vegetable, providing substantial amounts of vitamins A and C. Chile peppers are also used as a medicinal and lachrymator plant because of the characteristic burning sensation they cause when consumed by mammals. This sensation is caused by capsaicinoids that are alkaloids produced in vesicles inside the fruit. A novel class of chile peppers known as “super-hots” having greater than 1 million Scoville heat units have generated much interest. We compared the morphological structure of fruit pericarp and placental tissue of “super-hot” chile peppers to those of jalapeno and bell pepper. Most chile peppers including jalapenos, only produce the capsaicinoids in secreting vesicles found on the placenta. We report on the novel discovery that these “super-hot” chile peppers have developed accessorial vesicles on the pericarp tissue in addition to the vesicles on the placental tissue, thus leading to exceedingly high Scoville heat units for these plants.

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