Original Research

The genus Capsicum (Solanaceae) in Africa

W. H. Eshbaugh
Bothalia | Vol 14, No 3/4 | a1252 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/abc.v14i3/4.1252 | © 1983 W. H. Eshbaugh | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 November 1983 | Published: 06 November 1983

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W. H. Eshbaugh, Department of Botany, Miami University, United States

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The genus Capsicum (Solanaceae) includes approximately 20 wild species and 4-5 domesticated taxa commonly referred to as ‘chilies’ or ‘peppers’. The pre-Colombian distribution of the genus was New World. The evolutionary history of the genus is now envisaged as including three distinct lines leading to the domesticated taxa. The route of Capsicum to the Old World is thought to have followed three different courses. First, explorers introduced it to Europe with secondary introduction into Africa via further exploratory expeditions; second, botanical gardens played a major role in introduction; and third, introduction followed the slave trade routes. Today, pepper production in Africa is of two types, vegetable and spice. Statistical profiles on production are difficult to interpret, but the data available indicate that Nigeria, Egypt, Tunisia and Ghana are the leading producers. Production is mainly a local phenomenon and large acreage is seldom devoted to the growing of peppers. The primary peppers in Africa are C.  annuum and C.  frutescens.


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