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Manuscript: Exploring South-East Brazilian Wild Capsicum

1 Associazione PepperFriends (claudiodalzovo@pepperfriends.com)


A large number of little-known species of wild Capsicum grow in South-East Brazil.

Claudio Dal Zovo, one of the authors, made four trips (together with other Italian keens on Capsicum in 2011-2012, alone in 2013) to locate populations of these species, observe them in the wild, describe their morphological characteristics, gather a complete photographic documentation and report about the current situation.

The search for wild Capsicum in their habitat revealed interesting aspects.
Few species are clearly differentiated on the basis of their morphology and habitat.
Some populations found in different sites and classified as distinct species show minor differences and therefore could be ecotypes belonging to the same species, with differences caused by environmental conditions.
In other cases there are significant differences between populations assigned to the same species.

Some species are widespread, others restricted to limited areas, but represented by large populations.
However, some species are represented by extremely small populations, sometimes only a few individuals; they could disappear in a short time.

Our experience highlights the need to develop criteria for a more precise identification of the species.
It seems also necessary to protect some populations before they are lost forever, also through their ex-situ cultivation.

The possibility of using these wild species as a source of useful genes for cultivated species should be also evaluated, in order to add resistance to diseases and adverse weather conditions.


Wild Capsicum South-East Brazil Classification Protection Breeding


The wild species of the genus Capsicum grow in Center and South America.
South-East Brazil hosts about 10 little-known species, concentrated in a relatively small area.
Many species from the Central America and Andean region are well-known, since they are available through the seeds banks and are grown by chile peppers enthusiasts around the world.

The species of the South East Brazil were instead almost completely unknown; only few botanists had the chance to locate and study them in their natural habitat.
These species are unknown also to Brazilian people that don’t use them in any way.

Claudio Dal Zovo, one of the authors, wished to know more, so he decided to visit Brazil, together with other Italian keens on wild Capsicum, to locate populations, describe them through photographic documentation and morphological characterization and report about the current situation.
Data here reported are based on the point of view of the authors and may differ from the ones of other participants to the mission.

Materials and Methods

A meticulous preparatory work was carried out by examining almost all the available literature, searching herbaria sheets of Embrapa [13] and exchanging information with Brazilian and Argentinian botanists.

We chose the months of Brazilian late Summer/Autumn (late February-early June) in order to obtain the highest chance to find both open flowers and ripe berries.
Four esplorations were performed; two people participated to the first and second ones, four to the third one; Claudio Dal Zovo made a fourth trip alone.