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Chiltepin Peppers


(Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum) 

This small, spicy heirloom pepper is an ancient variety and is called the "mother of all peppers" because it is thought to be the oldest variety of Capsicum annumm. Chiltepin are native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico where they grow wild. They are also known as "bird peppers" because they are consumed in the wild by birds who disperse their seeds. The word Tepin is from the Nahuatl language of the Aztec Indians. It means “flea” because of its small size. 

We harvested the wild parent seed of our Chiltepin in SE Arizona in 1999 on the property of a friend, very close to Cochise Stronghold. The small peppers are generally round but occasionally have a more oval shape. Chiltepin are VERY hot, with a wide Scoville Unit range between 50,000 and 200,000, depending on growing conditions. While the heat of these tiny peppers is intense, the spice is usually short-lived on the palate and the flavor is very rich and complex.  

Plants grow in a bushy habit up to 3' by 3' with dozens of peppers per plant. Like all peppers, chiltepin are perennials in warm climates.