The chili pepper (also chile, chile pepper, chilli pepper, or chilli), from Nahuatl chilli, is the fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum which are members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Chili peppers are widely used in many cuisines as a spice to add heat to dishes. The substances giving chili peppers their intensity when ingested or applied topically are capsaicin and related compounds known as capsaicinoids.Chili peppers originated in Mexico. After the Columbian Exchange, many cultivars of chili pepper spread across the world, used for both food and traditional medicine.Cultivars grown in North America and Europe are believed to all derive from Capsicum annuum, and have white, yellow, red or purple to black fruits. In 2016, the world's production of raw green chili peppers amounted to 34.5 million tons, with China producing half.
Capsicum annuum is a species of the plant genus Capsicum (chillies or peppers and capsicums or bell peppers) native to southern North America and northern South America. This species is the most common and extensively cultivated of the five domesticated capsicums. The species encompasses a wide variety of shapes and sizes of peppers, both mild and hot, such as bell peppers, jalapeños, New Mexico chile, and cayenne peppers. Cultivars descended from the wild American bird pepper are still found in warmer regions of the Americas.In the past, some woody forms of this species have been called C. frutescens, but the features that were used to distinguish those forms appear in many populations of C. annuum and are not consistently recognizable features in C. frutescens species.
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