Acta Horticulturae Sinica ›› 2022, Vol. 49 ›› Issue (6): 1371-1381.doi: 10.16420/j.issn.0513-353x.2021-0853

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Origin,Evolution and Cultivation History of the Pepper

ZOU Xuexiao1,*(), ZHU Fan2   

  1. 1Engineering Research Center of Education Ministry for Germplasm Innovation and Breeding New Varieties of Horticultural Crops,College of Horticulture,Hunan Agricultural University,Changsha 410128,China
    2College of Landscape Architecture and Art Design,Hunan Agricultural University,Changsha 410128,China
  • Received:2021-12-16 Revised:2022-04-22 Online:2022-06-25 Published:2022-07-05
  • Contact: ZOU Xuexiao


The Pepper originated in the semi-arid area in central and southern Bolivia where the annual rainfall is less than 500 mm. This is a subtropical frost-free area. The original wild species are perennial herbs. According to the analysis and study of the starch granules,the Capsicum starch microfossils have been found dating from 8 000-7 500 years ago. Over thousands of years,Capsicum seeds spread out from Bolivia with the help of birds and indigenous peoples,thus spreading throughout South and Central America,then to the southwest of North America. In different ecological regions,more than 10 wild relatives and about 20 wild non-relatives of cultivated species have evolved. Capsicum cultivars evolved from the common ancestor Capsicum chacoense. The purple flower ancestors migrated to the Andes highlands and evolved to Capsicum pubescens. And the white flower ancestors migrated to the relatively dry area of southern Bolivia to evolve to Capsicum baccatum,continuing to migrate to the humid Amazon basin and evolve to the common ancestors of Capsicum annuum,Capsicum frutescens L. and Capsicum chinense Jacquin. They continued to migrate outward,evolving Capsicum annuum in Mexico and northern Central America,Capsicum frutescens L. in the Caribbean,and Capsicum chinense Jacquin in the northern valleys of the Amazon Basin. The pepper domestication started by removing the wild species from the original area for artificial cultivation. The wild species with the fruit small,single-color,upward-facing and easily falling off were domesticated into cultivated species with the fruit succulent,various-shaped,colorful,downward-facing,and not easy falling off,i.e. good economic benefits. Capsicum annuum was the first cultivated species domesticated in Mexico and Central America more than 6 000 years ago,and the other four cultivated species had been cultivated for at least 4 000 years,which are the oldest cultivated plants in America.

Key words: pepper, origin, evolution, domestication, wild species, cultivated species, cultivation

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