Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Pepper in Every Pot

Candy Buffet has a longtime obsession with more than just electronic candy. She loves peppers!

Now the U.S. Botanic Gardens (in conjunction with the United States Agriculture Research Service, ARS) has a new exhibit exploring the diversity of the pod-type pepper genus (Capsicum), including recently introduced varieties. The most popular (and is commercially available) is called the Black Pearl (pictured above). With deep black leaves, the shiny, black fruit is robust and remarkably adaptable, drought-tolerant and resists attacks from many insects and fungi. It ripens to a bright scarlet and can be used as a hot pepper in the kitchen. (I found seeds and plants on E-bay and Amazon).

Among the other new pepper varieties that ARS is developing are Tangerine Dream (a sweet, edible ornamental pepper that produces small, orange, banana-shaped fruit) and one new pepper with spreading black foliage and colorful upright peppers with a spicy flavor that can be used as ground cover (left) making it perfect for smaller urban gardens.

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