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Eating 'decorative' peppers

The nurseries around here are selling lots of holiday plants now including many colorful decorative peppers. The pot tags identify them only as Capsicum annuum. Are pods from these "house plants" edible?

I found one slightly different plant among the others identified as Jerusalem Cherry....I know that isn't a pepper and it was on a poisonous plant list I had when my kids were young. But the other plants all had pepper (C. annuum) ID tags and looked fine to eat.

So....have you eaten your pepper houseplants or planted them in the garden? Any concerns about toxicity?

Comments (6)

  • smokemaster_2007
    16 years ago

    I think any pepper is ok to eat.
    Make sure it's a pepper not a look alike.

    I think that ornamental peppers got a bad rep. because a lot of them are super hot with little or no flavor.

    Also it might be like tomato plants long ago,they were considered poisonous.
    I think anything related to the datura family was/is sometimes said to be poisonous even if it isn't.

    I think you can overdose on caspicum but it takes a lot to do so.

    A reason to be carefull about ornamental peppers is that they don't raise them as edibles.They can use stuff on them that they can't use on food crops.
    I eat ornamental peppers but don't usually eat the peppers on the plant when I buy them in case someone sprayed them with raid or something.
    They are breeding the heat out of some ornamental peppers these days so your little kid doesn't burn it's mouth or eyes if it gets hold of your plant.Child proof chilis.

  • dangould
    16 years ago

    I would not purchase these plants and then eat the peppers. If the plants were given a systemic poison the plants and peppers will be permanently poisoned. Poisoned in a way that might cause cancer years later not in a way that you would be dead immediately.

    However, you could save seeds and then grow your own plants safely.

    My impression is that the plants are given the name decorative as the way they are to be sold not because the peppers are poisonous of themselves. My impression is also that they are very hot with little flavor.

    If you want a very decorative plant with great eating qualities you might try many peppers. One that is very popular in Brazil is the malagueta. a short plant with many tiny very hot peppers. they are related to the tabasco pepper. These grow real easy even in tiny pots. Because the plant is small they seem to grow slowly.

    Here is a link that might be useful: malagueta peppers

  • shelbyguy
    16 years ago

    One of my all-time favorites is Thai Hot Ornamental aka Thai Sun Pepper. It is a small plant with hundreds of little firecrackers on it. BANG! super hot, but it goes away almost immediately (compared to say, habaneros which has heat that creeps up and keeps building over time).

    Being a tiny plant, it is also easy to overwinter in containers.

    The only downside is that it takes a lot of time to harvest all those tiny peppers... :)

    I'm currently trying out Coban, which is also proving to be a tiny plant. We'll see how it goes.

  • naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Great info, thanks!

    Now, if I took the cost of one decorative plant and used it to buy pepper seeds instead.....hmmm...this could be good. I could have lots of decorative peppers that are organically grown and safe to eat for presents next year.

    Any other suggestions for ones that would do okay inside in the winter without lots of supplemental light? I have a large double patio door facing south with good natural lighting in the winter.

  • byron
    16 years ago

    There was one called Varageta, labeled poisionous. Truth was it was just very bitter and some folks didn't like it. Nothing in the capsicum Plant variety has been labeled posionous, so far.

    Some OG growers would object to chem raised and sprayed plants. Thats about as close as it gets.

    I do a Bolivian Rainbow, nice looking plant, pods are about a 7 on a 10 heat scale. Taste great.

  • cmpman1974
    16 years ago

    Nothing yet Byron...Bhut Jolokia is getting close though. :) 1,000,000+ SHU could do it.