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Plants you aren’t growing, but should be: Capsicum pubescens, Rocoto

June 19, 2013

Capsicum pubescens, commonly known as Rocoto, is the least widespread and oldest cultivated species of all domesticated peppers; it has been grown for 5,000+ years. All pepper species are native to the Americas and are closely related to other such familiar plants as tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, tobacco, and many more. This particular pepper species’ native range spans from the Michoacan highlands of Mexico into the South American Andes, however it is not present in the Central American tropics where there is not suitable climate for it to grow.

The Rocoto can often live for fifteen years often growing into a 15 ft tall woody plant. The large shrub / small tree thrives in part shade, temperate to sub-tropical climates and tolerates a fair amount of cold.

I first became acquainted with the rocoto years ago when I found it at a municipal market in Tarija, Southern Boliva.

C. pubescens is easily grown from seed, I’m not sure about cuttings or airlayers (?)

Below are photos of the leaf, flower bud and flower.

Capsicum pubescens leaf

And below, a photo of an emerging bud.

Capsicum pubescens, leaf

Below a photo of a rocoto flower, very characteristic of the solanaceae family (compare to tomato, eggplant, potato, Physialis.


9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 19, 2013 10:08:20 am

    Do the leaves always look puckered? To me that looks lie evidence of aphid attack.

    What’s the fruit like to eat?

    • June 20, 2013 10:08:31 am

      The leaves in the photograph are still in the process of leafing out. They do have a somewhat puckered appearance, although definitely no aphids. I think it may just be due to exuberant growth, its finally starting to get sunny and warm here in Berkeley, California, all the plants are growing as fast as they can.

  2. June 19, 2013 10:08:11 pm

    My friend (who works in a local nursery) bought one and it was growing like crazy. She gave me lots of cuttings but alas, these still remain “Things you should be growing but can’t” rather than “aren’t” :(. Maybe I can get hold of some seeds? If so, I am definately going to grow them. There is a 3 metre tall specimen growing down in Hobart so they definately like it here in Tassie!

    • June 19, 2013 10:08:26 pm

      It propagates very well from seed…. So sounds like a trip down to Hobart is in order….

      • June 19, 2013 10:08:36 pm

        I might have to do a bit of fence hopping…it’s on a private property 😉

        • June 19, 2013 10:08:41 pm

          This is when remote control drones come in handy. Or cyborg kangaroos programmed to collect seed.

          • June 19, 2013 10:08:49 pm

            Or Earl with a tracking device. The moment I let him off he will collect just about everything in his path. I just have to make sure that the bush chilli is in his immediate pathway 😉 I might have a heavy fine when I find him BUT I should have some seed 🙂

  3. Carol Hill permalink
    December 27, 2013 10:08:06 am

    Where abouts in Hobart is that giant chilli growing, I would like to have a look at it. cheers Carol Hill


  1. Capsicum pubescens (rocoto) flower… | anthropogen

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