Capsicum minimum

Common Names: Cayenne Pepper, Capsicum, Chili or Chili Pepper, Hot Pepper, Tabasco Pepper.

A shrubby, ornamental and perennial plant, which grows up to 6 feet high. Its branches are angular. The fruit it bears are small, red, and long; containing small flat seeds, which number from ten to twenty-nine. The cuticle of the pericarp is uniformly striated which makes cayenne distinct from other species. Originally only found in Zanzibar, Cayenne was introduced into Britain in 1548, and is now cultivated in many parts of the world. Cayenne's name is derived from the Greek, 'to bite', and is shared with the capital of French Guiana.

The potent, hot fruit of cayenne has been used as medicine for centuries, and has a wide range of medicinal qualities. It is very effective when added to liniments for arthritis, and muscle aches. It is a great benefit internally by increasing circulation and blood flow, strengthening the heart, arteries, capillaries and nerves. It is also used to stimulate the action of other herbs. When added regularly to meals in small quantities it is extremely effective in normalizing blood pressure.

Cayenne aids in digestion, flatulence, and in small doses is also effective for relieving colic. It will stop bleeding both externally and internally, which makes it excellent for use with ulcers. It can be used in antibiotic combinations, for menstrual cramps, and is beneficial when added to the course of treatment for depression. As with other spices, cayenne is wonderful for relief of blocked sinuses, and for warding off colds. And if a small amount is sprinkled into socks or shoes it will warm the feet during winter.

Cayenne has a very pungent taste, and a smell characteristic of the capsicum species. It is extremely hot, and should be used sparingly in cooking. A small amount of cayenne can add a deep stimulating flavour to many dishes, from seafood, to sauces, to pizza.

Cayenne has religious qualities too. Cayenne pepper scattered around your house will break bad spells. And adding it to love potions will fuel passion.

Cayenne can be grown in many climates, excluding those which have extreme change in seasons. The plants like rich soil, plenty of water, and full sun. The peppers are dried in shade after ripening, and ground, diced, or left whole as ornaments.

Cayenne can be found in powdered form in most supermarkets, and health food stores. Fresh, and dried whole cayenne is sold in some fruit and vegetable stores, although you will probably have better luck finding them at a market, or specialist spice shop.

Cay*enne (?), n. [From Cayenne, a town and island in French Guiana, South America.]

Cayenne pepper.

Cayenne pepper. (a) Bot. A species of capsicum (C. frutescens) with small and intensely pungent fruit. (b) A very pungent spice made by drying and grinding the fruits or seeds of several species of the genus Capsicum, esp. C. annuum and C. Frutescens; -- Called also red pepper. It is used chiefly as a condiment.


© Webster 1913.

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