Do hot & sweet peppers cross and make hot fruits?

julianna_il(z6 IL)May 27, 2010

I would think the answer is no, but last year, I bought some gypsy pepper plants and some other sweet peppers (marconi, etc.), and in the same garden I had a couple of hot chili pepper plants I bought.

The sweet peppers were all hot. The fruits looked right, but tasted hot.

So now I'm wondering if it's safe to plant hot and sweet in the same garden or not. Never had that problem before, and honestly, I thought if things cross pollinated, it just affected the next generation's seeds.

What happened to make my sweet peppers so hot?

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Only explanation I know of is that the plants you purchased must have been grown from saved seed that had crossed the previous year. The current fruit isn't affected by cross-pollination, only the seeds, and only certain varieties will cross with each other. Plant those crossed seeds the next year and you might get a hot sweet pepper or a sweet hot pepper.

See the FAQ below and here is a long discussion on the question from over on the Peppers forum here.


Here is a link that might be useful: If I Plant A Habanero Next To My Banana Pepper Will I Get A Hot Banana Pepper?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 8:37PM
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I hope not because I have 6 of those Bhut Jalokia killer pepper plants and I don't want to contaminate the whole pepper harvest!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 2:00PM
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Dave is correct and he has provided a good source of info on this often discussed subject. Last summer, I researched this and found my answers at TAMU. I planted everything from sweet bells to Habañeros, jalapeños, hot cherries, serranos, etc. All of my sweet peppers were sweet and all the hot ones were hot. So, I can tell you first hand having hot and sweet peppers next to each other this season does not affect the current fruit production. Now if you save the seeds? That's a different matter to be experienced the next season. My GAWD can you imagine Bhut Jalokia flavored Orange Bell Peppers?! Not in this lifetime!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 7:34PM
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    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 10:58PM
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eileen_nv(Z9 Homosassa)

It's not so improbable. I've run into this before. The seeds in a cross-pollinated pepper will have the capsaicin (hot stuff) in them, and it can diffuse into the walls of the pepper fruit.

(The seed has gene activity from both pollen [male] and ovule [female]parents, and can thus be hot)

If this happens, the heat is mostly in the membranes, and the top shoulders of the fruit.

One bad experience, and I now keep the hot and sweet peppers in different beds. It does not take a lot of separation - peppers are mostly "air" pollinated, and self-pollinated at that. 4 -5 feet will usually be fine, unless there's a bumblebee who really has it in for you...LOL :-D

    Bookmark   May 30, 2010 at 9:18PM
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Sexual production/pollination cannot make a recessive gene pepper fruit suddenly produce capsacin.

I'd check your seed or plant sources if this becomes a problem.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2010 at 10:03PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Agree with nc-crn but as you can see every time this question comes up there is always at least one who swears it is possible because of some experience they have had and they didn't understand how it happened. So they blame it on cross-pollination.

This despite decades of genetic research. The seed contains nothing but a collection of genetic material. That mass of genes MAY have the potential to produce capsaicin some day once it develops but it contains no capsaicin. It "diffuses" nothing to the current fruit.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2010 at 11:42PM
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Investigate the word "Metaxenia". The short summary is that metaxenia is when pollen affects the female plant tissue. It is possible that hot pepper pollen could cause a sweet pepper to develop some capsaicin but as previously posted, many years of research says it does not happen.

Corn is a different story. When you grow white corn and it is pollinated by pollen from a corn plant that produces yellow seed, then the white corn plant produces kernels that are yellow. This is because one set of dna from the pollen is incorporated into the corn seed and since that dna codes for yellow corn and since yellow is dominant over white, the result is yellow corn kernels.

The general rule of thumb is that the seed are affected by the pollen source but the fruit that houses the seed is not. There are examples such as apple that break this rule for specific characters.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 2:34AM
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