Cayenne: Where in the World
habitat and range for cayenne

Capsicum annuum is a domesticated species of the plant genus Capsicum native to southern North America and northern South America.

Cayenne: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information about cayenne

Capsicum annuum is in the Solanaceae or nightshade family. It is an upright perennial or annual shrub usually less than 1 m tall, with small, white, pendent flowers and elongated, yellow, orange or red fruits (berries). It can be distinguished from other types of domesticated peppers by flowers that are solitary rather than in groups, and filaments (thread-like stalks supporting the anther) that are not purple.

Capsicum annuum can be difficult to separate from the cultivated C. chinense and C. frutescens and their morphological features can overlap. These three species share the same ancestral gene pool and are sometimes called the ‘annuum-chinense-frutescens complex’. The varieties and cultivars of Capsicum annuum are classified on the basis of their fruit shapes. There are so many different kinds (several thousand) that nobody knows exactly how many there are. More and more local variants are appearing in cultivation across the world because existing varieties cross-pollinate easily.

common names & nomenclature
The species name annuum means “annual” from the Latin annus “year”. The common name is for the city of Cayenne in French Guiana.

Also known as:
cayenne, cayenne pepper, guinea spice, cow-horn pepper, aleva, bird pepper, red pepper (powdered form)

Cayenne: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting cayenne

Cayenne plants prefer full sun in a warm climate, these plants are mostly perennial in sub-tropical and tropical regions; however, they are usually grown as annuals in temperate climates.

Prefers warm, moist, nutrient-rich soil.

Start seeds indoors and sow ¼ inch deep, 8 to 12 weeks before the last frost. You can pre-soak seeds in warm water overnight prior to planting. After planting, keep moist and warm in a sunny location. Good results are also achieved by putting plastic cling wrap over the containers to create a hothouse environment. Remove when seedlings emerge.

Harvest when peppers are red for hottest flavor and if you plan to crush or grind them after drying. You can harvest and use the pepper fresh, when it’s green, but the flavor may not be as hot.

To dry, string hot peppers through stem with a sewing needle thread or fishing string. Then hang in a sunny window. To freeze, wash thoroughly and let dry. Cut off stem and leave the seeds in. Freeze in containers or plastic bags. They'll taste "fresh" any time you eat them. You can also make your own gourmet crushed hot peppers. Preheat oven and broil to 250 degrees. Put dried hot peppers into oven in pan or on tin foil. Roast about 5 minutes or until just starting to darken. Let cool and put in blender. Crush to desired size. All dried forms may also be ground into a powder. Store dried peppers or powder in a cool, dry place in an airtight container.

Caution should be taken when processing or handling this pepper as it is very hot and you would not want to touch your eyes or similar sensitive areas after handling.

Cayenne: The Rest of the Story
cayenne history, folklore, literature & more

adding cayenne pepper to your medicine cabinet
Many cooks have cayenne pepper in the kitchen to turn their food’s flavor up a notch. Cayenne pepper can be used to spice up chili, eggs, or just about anything that could use some kick. However, what most people don’t know is that cayenne pepper can also be used to treat many medical issues.

For years, people have sworn by the affects of cayenne pepper on a cold or sore throat. The pepper is thought to help boost immunity and keep you going when a virus tries to get you down. That could be because it’s high in vitamin C and antioxidants that help to keep infection under control.

You can make a drink using cayenne pepper, lemon juice, water, and maple syrup. This can actually help to treat a sore throat keeping it at bay. And it doesn’t taste too bad either—like spicy lemonade.

Cayenne pepper also works to keep the blood circulating efficiently in the body. It can be applied to frostbite and gangrene to help draw blood to the affected areas. Some people have even been known to put cayenne pepper in the bottom of their shoes in order to keep feet warm on an icy day.

If you have problems with your blood or heart, you may want to consider making cayenne pepper a part of your daily consumption. It can work as a tonic generally improving your circulation. Just make sure to talk with your doctor to make sure it won’t interfere with any medications you’ve been prescribed.

If you’re taking other herbs, you may want to add a little cayenne pepper to your formula. That’s because cayenne will actually help your blood absorb other herbs more efficiently and help them to deliver their own punch.

For first aid, cayenne pepper is also helpful. If you have a minor wound that’s bleeding, applying cayenne pepper directly will help to stop the bleeding quickly. It also works as a disinfectant to prevent infections from germs.

You can take cayenne pepper daily, but you don’t need much. Adding about ¼ of a teaspoon to tall glass of water or juice is enough for a start. Gradually you can add more to your routine. You should also be aware that cayenne pepper comes in differing degrees of heat. Start with 30,000 HU and work your way up from there.

What does the '(90M HU)' mean?
This stands for heat units which is an indicator of how hot this pepper is. Learn more Scoville Heat Units.