Also Known as: Chile Petin, Chiltepin, Bird Pepper
Scientific name: Capsicum annuum / Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum
Did You Know?
Chile Pequin is the only Pepper native to the United States and is related to Jalapeno but much much hotter (rated at 49,000 to 60,000 on the Scoville heat scale compared to Jalapeno’s 2,500 to 10,000). The fruit are edible and great for adding heat to recipes but the rest of the plant is toxic.
Chile Pequin is also called “Bird Pepper” because the seeds are spread by birds who, unlike mammals are not affected by the heat of the peppers and love to eat the small fruit.
Chile Pequin (also known as “Chile Petin” or “Bird Pepper”) is a medium sized shrub averaging 2’-3’ tall with an abundance of small white flowers and green to red fruit from spring to fall. It is popular for its numerous edible red fruits, shade tolerance, and low maintenance. Pequin’s abundance of colorful fruit makes it perfect for mass planting, accent planting, native gardens, and xeric landscapes. Pequin can tolerate full sun but does better in partial shade and with regular watering (it will drop its leaves if it gets too dry). Freezing temperatures can kill it to the ground but as long as the soil does not freeze the plant will regrow the next season. Typically having an open form, Chile Pequin can be pruned to form a more dense and compact shrub.
Chile Pequin’s native range extends from Central America through southern Texas, as far west as Arizona, and as far east as Florida. While Pequin is native to Texas, it can struggle with the intense summer heat and needs regular watering and light shade to do best. Pequin requires little fertilizer and is deer resistant once established. The abundant fruit are a favorite food of birds and the flowers attract bees and other nectarivorous insects. Pequin blooms and sets fruit from spring through fall.
Plants are available commercially, typically in 1 to 5 gallon sizes. Pequin can also be grown from seed but the seeds need to be scarified (the seed coating needs to be scratched) or soaked in a weak acid to promote germination.
Plant Pequin in partial shade, water regularly, protect from frost, and enjoy the peppers!