Spanish Peppers

Learn about Spanish pepper history, growth patterns, and the use of the Hong Gochu pepper in the making of savory gochujang.


[Capsicum Annuum]

In 1749 an unusual plant was waving in the fields of Limhamn, outside the southern Swedish town of Malmö. Carl von Linnė, who at that time was touring the southern province of Skåne, was so impressed with this vegetable that he made note of it in his travelogue. As he understood it, after listening to the local farmers, this was an annual Capsicum that was grown so the farmers could add potency to the local aquavit, and Linnė gave the plant the name annuum, which means annual. What he didn’t know is that chili is a perennial plant if grown in a tropical climate. A few years later the species’ name was included in Species plantarum, and as such was accepted internationally, which means that confusion still reigns today. Capsicum annuum is quite simply a perennial plant that is grown as an annual in a cold climate.

C. annuum is the biggest and most variety-rich species within the family, with chilis that can stay as low as around 7-3/4" (20 cm.) or grow as high as 6-1/2 feet (2 meters) in one season. Bell pepper belongs to the same family as chili, and they are both subgroups of C. annuum. Plants with sweet fruits are attributed to the bell pepper group and those with hot fruits to the chili pepper group. However, the border is fluid and it’s not always easy to place the mild fruits in the right category.

The growth habit varies from tidy to sprawling; the leaves can be large or small, smooth or dented, green or purplish. The flowers are white, yellowy white, or lilac. The fruits vary in heat strength, size, color, form, and flavor. In this species you’ll find ripe fruits in all the chili colors, even white, beige, lilac, and black. To pick out a C. annuum, the simplest way is to first rule out that the plant doesn’t belong to one of the other of the four common species. Now, that isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. For example, the jalapeño variety Farmers’ Market is hairy, which is usually a characteristic for Rocoto peppers. On the other hand, Farmers’ Market doesn’t have black seeds and is therefore a C. annuum. To complicate things further, the annum varieties crossbreed both with each other and with varieties from the other species except C. pubescens.


Hong Gochu 

Origin: Korea



Learn from Home!

Survival Skills, Garden Planning, Seed Saving, Food Preservation, Natural Health – Dozens of courses, 100+ workshops, and interactive Q&As.


Become a Preferred Subscriber and start enjoying the benefits today!

Fall in love with the flavor, versatility, and beauty of Mother Earth Gardener

Mother Earth GardenerDelight your taste buds, mind and eyes with beautiful photos and inspirational techniques on everything you need to know to grow, preserve and cook your own heirloom fruits and vegetables. You won’t want to miss the stories about plants passed down from generation to generation.

Don’t miss a single issue of Mother Earth Gardener. Published by the editors of MOTHER EARTH NEWS, Mother Earth Gardener provides decades of organic gardening experience from the most trusted voices in the field. Join today and save off the newsstand price! Get one year (4 issues) for only $24.95! (USA only)

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube