Sweet pepper (Capsicum annuum Grossum group)
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Capsicum is a genus of plants from the nightshade family (Solanaceae) native to the Americas, where it was cultivated for thousands of years by the people of tropical America, and now cultivated worldwide. Some of the members of Capsicum are used as spices, vegetables, and medicines. The fruit of Capsicum plants have a variety of names depending on place and type. They are commonly called chili pepper, red or green pepper, or just pepper in Britain and the US; the large mild form is called bell pepper in the US, capsicum in Australian English and Indian English, and paprika in some other countries (although paprika can also refer to the powdered spice made from various capsicum fruit).
The original Mexican term, chilli (now chile in Spanish) came from Nahuatl word chilli or xilli, referring to a huge Capsicum variety cultivated at least since 3000 BC, according to remains found in pottery from Puebla and Oaxaca.
The fruit of most species of Capsicum contains capsaicin (methyl vanillyl nonenamide), a lipophilic chemical that can produce a strong burning sensation in the mouth (and, if not properly digested, anus) of the unaccustomed eater. Most mammals find this unpleasant; however, birds are unaffected. Apparently, the secretion of capsaicin is an adaptation to protect the fruit from consumption by mammals while the bright colors attract birds that will spread the seeds. The amount of capsaicin in peppers is highly variable and dependent on genetics, giving almost all types of peppers varied amounts of perceived heat. The only pepper without capsaicin is the bell pepper, which has a zero rating on the Scoville scale. Chili peppers are of great importance in Native American medicine, and capsaicin is used in modern Western medicine — mainly in topical medications — as a circulatory stimulant and pain reliever.
Although black pepper and Sichuan pepper cause similar burning sensations, they are caused by different substances—piperine and alpha-hydroxy-sanshool, respectively.
Capsicum fruits and peppers can be eaten raw or cooked. Those used in cooking are generally varieties of the C. annuum and C. frutescens species, though a few others are used as well. They are suitable for stuffing with fillings such as cheese, meat or rice.