Herb: Tabasco Pepper

Latin name: Capsicum frutescens

Synonyms: Capsicum minimum

Family: Solanaceae (Nightshade Family, Potato Family)

Medicinal use of Tabasco Pepper:

The dried fruit is a powerful local stimulant with no narcotic effect, it is most useful in atony of the intestines and stomach. It has proved efficacious in dilating blood vessels and thus relieving chronic congestion of people addicted to drink. It is sometimes used as a tonic and is said to be unequalled in warding off disease (probably due to the high vitamin C content). Some caution should be employed, however, since large doses are extremely irritating to the gastro-intestinal system. Used externally, the fruit is a strong rubefacient stimulating the circulation, aiding the removal of waste products and increasing the flow of nutrients to the tissues. It is applied as a cataplasm or liniment. It has also been powdered and placed inside socks as a traditional remedy for those prone to cold feet. A weak infusion can be used as a gargle to treat throat complaints. The fruit is also antihaemorrhoidal, antirheumatic, antiseptic, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, sialagogue and stomachic. These pungent fruited peppers are important in the tropics as gastrointestinal detoxifiers and food preservatives. The fruits contain 0.1 - 1.5% capsaicin. This substance stimulates the circulation and alters temperature regulation. Applied to the skin it desensitizes nerve endings and so has been used as a local anaesthetic. The seed contains capsicidins. These are thought to have antibiotic properties.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

August to

Habitat of the herb:

Not known in the wild.

Edible parts of Tabasco Pepper:

Fruit - raw or cooked. Very hot and normally used as a flavouring. The fruit can be dried and ground into a powder for use as a flavouring. The fruit is up to 7.5cm long and 1cm wide. Seed - dried, ground and used as a pepper. Leaves - cooked as a potherb. Some caution is advised, see note at top of the page.

Other uses of the herb:

The growing plant repels insects.

Propagation of Tabasco Pepper:

Seed - sow late winter to early spring in a warm greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 3 - 4 weeks at 20C. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots of reasonably rich soil and grow them on fast. If trying them outdoors, then plant them out after the last expected frosts and give them the protection of a cloche or frame at least until they are established and growing away well.

Cultivation of the herb:

Not known in the wild.

Known hazards of Capsicum frutescens:

Although no reports have been seen for this species, many plants in this family produce toxins in their leaves. The sap of the plant can cause the skin to blister.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.