The super-hot, bright orange TigerPaw-NR habanero pepper offers extreme pungency for pepper aficionados, plus nematode resistance that will make it a hit with growers and home gardeners. Plant geneticist Richard L. Fery and plant pathologist Judy A. Thies at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) U.S. Vegetable Laboratory, Charleston, S.C., put the pepper through three years of greenhouse and field tests before determining, in 2006, that it was ready for commercial fields and backyard gardens.
Peppers don’t have to be just green and bell shaped and relegated to the supermarket shelf or home garden plot. This genus of plants has the genetic potential to provide a wide array of possibilities for the kitchen and the ornamental garden and sometimes both at once. Research on peppers from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is being featured from June to November in an exhibit called “A Pepper for Every Pot” at the U.S. Botanic Gardens in Washington, D.C. This exhibit explores the diversity of peppers, including recently introduced varieties, and celebrates peppers’ beauty, flavors and nutritional benefits.
One of the world’s tastiest and most popular cuisines, Mexican food also may be one of the oldest. Plant remains from two caves in southern Mexico analyzed by a Smithsonian ethnobotanist/archaeologist and a colleague indicate that as early as 1,500 years ago, Pre-Columbian inhabitants of the region enjoyed a spicy fare similar to Mexican cuisine today. The two caves yielded 10 different cultivars (cultivated varieties) of chili peppers.
Related: Hot Peppers – Why Are They Hot?