Bell pepper (Capsicum annuum)
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Bell pepper is a cultivar group of the species Capsicum annuum. Cultivars of the plant produce fruits in different colors, including red, yellow, green and orange. Bell peppers contain a recessive gene that prevents capsaicin from being produced, so they lack the spiciness that many other varieties of peppers have. Bell peppers are sometimes grouped with less pungent pepper varieties as “sweet peppers”.
The term “bell pepper” is one of the many names for some fruits of the Capsicum annuum species of plants. The misleading name “pepper” (pimiento in Spanish) was given by Christopher Columbus upon bringing the plant back to Europe. At that time peppercorns were a highly prized condiment.
Today, the term “bell pepper” or “pepper” or “capsicum” is often used for any of the large bell shaped capsicum fruits, regardless of their color. In British English, the fruit is simply referred to as a “pepper”, whereas in many Commonwealth of Nations countries, such as Australia, India, Malaysia and New Zealand, they are called “capsicum”. Across Europe, the term “paprika”, which has its roots in the word for pepper, is used—sometimes referred to by their color (e.g. “groene paprika”, “gele paprika”, in Dutch, which are green and yellow, respectively). Paprika also refers to the powdered spice made from the same fruit. In the United States and Canada, the fruit is often referred to simply as a “pepper” or referred to by color (e.g. “red pepper”, “green pepper”), although the more specific term “bell pepper” is understood in most regions.
In parts of the U.S. around southern Ohio and northern Kentucky the term “mangoes” (or “mangos”) has sometimes been used to refer to bell peppers. However, as the actual mango fruit has become more common in the region, this usage has faded.
In Russia it is commonly called болгарский перец (bolgarskiy perets), meaning Bulgarian pepper. In France, it is called poivron, with the same root as poivre (meaning black pepper). In Denmark the bell pepper is referred to as “peberfrugt”, meaning pepper-fruit.
Bell peppers are a great source of vitamin C. Green bell peppers have two times the vitamin C by weight than citrus fruits (oranges, lemons etc.) and Red bell peppers have three times what the green bell varieties have.