How Are Chili Pepper Seeds Dispersed?

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Chili Peppers
Chili Peppers (Image: Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Matteo X)

Over 3,000 types of chili peppers grow in home gardens and on commercial farms. Chili peppers also grow in the wild all across the world; they even grow in the most remote areas.

Origins

The first red chilies grew in the Amazon region and resembled small, red berries. Chili peppers provided a food source for birds. Birds cannot sense the heat contained in the pulp of the fruit or within the seeds.

Cause

The fruits get their heat from the chemical capsaicin. The capsaicin slows the growth of a harmful fungus called fusarium. Animals do not like the heat of the fruit and will not eat them.

Method

Birds eat the peppers, but they do not fully digest the seeds. The birds migrate to other regions and disperse seeds through their droppings. Seeds that land in soil will eventually sprout.

Considerations

Ants play a large role in preventing the pepper plants from becoming invasive. The shells of hot chili pepper seeds are thin. Ants bite through the shells easily and kill the chili seed.

Potential

A spray made from the extract of hot chili peppers deters pests, foraging animals and disease from attacking a variety of food crops.

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