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Page 1 - Abstract, Keywords, Introduction, Materials and Methods

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Manuscript: Exploring South-East Brazilian Wild Capsicum

1 Associazione PepperFriends (claudiodalzovo@pepperfriends.com)


During the trips we found out and documented populations or individuals of known species and yet unclassified accessions, which are identified by the collector codes and the provisional names (Capsicum sp. followed by a progressive number) assigned during an exploration conducted by Brazilian botanists in 1999 [5].

Capsicum villosum Sendtn.  
Capsicum villosum Sendtn. var. muticum Sendtn.  
Capsicum schottianum Sendtn.  
Capsicum cornutum (Hiern) Hunz. LBB1542, LBB1546, LBB1547
Capsicum dusenii Bitter  
Capsicum pereirea Barboza & Bianchetti  
Capsicum friburgense Bianchetti & Barboza  
Capsicum hunzikerianum Barboza & Bianchetti  
Capsicum buforum Hunz. LBB1550, LBB1551
Capsicum recurvatum Witas. Capsicum sp.1, LBB1520, LBB1521
Capsicum sp.6 LBB1559, LBB1564, LBB1556
Capsicum sp.9 LBB1569

We also found out two populations of uncertain classification, similar to C.recurvatum and Capsicum flexuosum Sendtn.
We also observed cultivated plants of Capsicum parvifolium Sendtn., now re-classified as Capsicum caatingae Barboza & Agra, and many plants of quite common species such as Capsicum praetermissum Heiser & Smith and Capsicum baccatum L. var. baccatum.

All the black-seeded South-Eastern species have common features (except C.flexuosum).
The number of chromosomes is 26 (2n=2x) (not verified in C.hunzikerianum).
The typical habitat of the wild Capsicum spp. is the “Mata Atlantica”, the forest which covers the mountains along the South-East Atlantic coast of Brazil.
All the species live at quite high altitudes, with a few exceptions, from a minimum of 500 m asl up to a maximum of almost 2000 m asl.

The plants prefer the transition zones between light and shadow; they grow mainly at the edges of roads and trails or at the limits of clearings (with the exception of C.pereirae).
The plants have shrub or small tree habit with long branches and vigorous suckers and sprouts.
The height of adult plants varies from 50-60 cm up to over 3 m, but we found out also plants with creeping stems several meters long and suckers up to 3 m in height.
The leaves along the branches are often in pairs with one leaf larger than the other.
Plants are covered by mono-pluricellular trichomes; some species are almost glabrous, other very pubescent; populations characterized by the presence of glandular trichomes were observed.

The flowers are usually multiple per node, erect and geniculate at anthesis.
The corolla in most cases is stellate, white with greenish/yellowish spots in the throat and purplish red spots in the petals lobes.

Fruits are small and roundish, as large as a pea, pendulous and deciduous when ripe.
Fruits of all the species are pungent, except in C.dusenii; they are quite hot when immature, less hot, sweet and juicy after ripening; the final color is greenish yellow, almost translucent.
Seeds are black, very coriaceous.

The morphological characters distinguishing the different species or botanical varieties are the position of the flower at anthesis, the corolla colours, the presence of teeth in the calyx, the pubescence and (in some cases) the trichomes type.

C.villosum is widespread and has homogeneus traits in all the identified populations; plant is wholly covered with trichomes; calyx has 5 long teeth; flower is erect and geniculate at anthesis; corolla is white with greenish/yellowish spots in the throat and purplish red spots in the lobes.

C.villosum var. muticum share the same characteristics of C.villosum, but calyx is toothless.

C.schottianum is also widespread, with significant morphological differences from area to area; plants often grow to huge size (over 3 m); trichomes are scarce; calyx is toothless or with tiny teeth; flower is erect and geniculate at anthesis; corolla is white with greenish or yellowish spots in the throat and the lobes, sometimes with purplish red spots in the distal part of the lobes.

C.cornutum shows a great variability in the corolla color, with greenish, yellowish or brownish spots; in some populations corolla is entirely white; flower is erect and geniculate at anthesis; calyx has 10 teeth (sometimes from 5 to 9) of different size; plants are scarcely pubescent.

C.dusenii is very pubescent; flower is erect and geniculate at anthesis; corolla is slightly campanulate with purplish/brownish spots; calyx has 10 long teeth of the same length.
Fruits are not pungent [3].

C.pereirae grows in a very special and narrow habitat in the relatively arid Park of Ibitipoca, two “grutas humidas” with scarce natural light and very high humidity.
Plant is glabrous with coriaceous leaves; calyx is toothless; flower is pendulous; corolla has greenish or yellowish spots in the throat and purplish red spots in the lobes.

C.friburgense is undoubtly a unique species; plant is scarcely pubescent; flower is erect and geniculate at anthesis; calyx has 5 teeth, not always well-developed; corolla is unique among all Capsicum, campanulate urceolate, entirely lilac-fuchsia.
Fruits are light green when immature, dark green when ripe (not yellowish as in other species).
The species grows in a very narrow area near Nova Friburgo, at high altitude (1750 m).

C.hunzikerianum is very distinct from the others; it grows in marshy places in a very misty habitat in a narrow area in the Estação Biológica de Boracéia.
Plant is glabrous, with nodes and young branches violaceous and coriaceous leaves; calyx has 5 evident teeth; fruit is larger than in other species; flower is erect not geniculate; corolla is large, with greenish/yellowish spots in the throat and purplish red spots in the lobes.

C.buforum grows near Campos do Jordão, inside the Park and (few plants) near the railway station E.Lefévre.
Plant is scarcely pubescent; calyx has 5 evident teeth; flower is erect and geniculate at anthesis; corolla has greenish/yellowish spots in the throat, purplish red spots in the lobes, visible in the back of petals.

Some populations growing South of São Paulo could be classified as C.recurvatum , e.g. C.sp.1 LBB1520 and LBB1521 in the Park Botelho and another population along the Estrada da Graciosa.
Flower has greenish/yellowish spots; calyx bears 5-9 teeth curved backward, sometimes reduced or barely visible.
A population found at Paranapiacaba, inside the Reserve and in the neighbourhood, has similar features.

Capsicum sp.6 includes populations with similar traits, i.e. calyx with 5 teeth and corolla with clear purplish red spots in the lobes.
C. sp.6 LBB1559 is an accession found along the road to the Park of Ibitipoca; plant is scarcely pubescent; flower is erect and geniculate at anthesis; calyx has 5 teeth variable in length (sometimes reduced); corolla is characterized by purplish red spots very evident and sometimes spread throughout the petals.
C. sp.6 LBB1556 grows near Piquete; it is similar to the previous one, but with more marked purplish red spots which often are also visible in the back of the petals.
C. sp.6 LBB1564 grows in a narrow area at high altitude in the Parque dos Orgãos.
Plant is scarcely pubescent; flower is erect or intermediate, geniculate at anthesis; calyx has 5 fleshy teeth; corolla is slightly campanulate; the back of the petals and the buds are violaceous.

Capsicum sp.9 LBB1569 grows at Caraça and it is characterized by linear leaves, up to 20 cm long and less than 2 cm wide.
Plant is quite pubescent, with mono-pluricellular thricomes; calyx has 5 well-formed teeth, sometimes with additional shorter teeth.
Flower is variable in size, very large (up to twice the size of flowers of other wild species), erect or, more often, intermediate, geniculate at anthesis, with greenish/yellowish spots reduced and purplish red spots very evident in the lobes.
Fruits are quite large and slightly irregularly shaped.

C.flexuosum is a species with 24 chromosomes spread in Paraguay and North Argentina, but some populations were also found near São Paulo.
The population of Monteiro Lobato is very similar to C.flexuosum (coriaceous leaves, red ripe fruits), but differs in the presence of purplish red spots in the corolla lobes.

C.caatingae is a species with 24 (2n=2x) chromosomes typical of Central Brazil arid biomes, but two plants are grown by Prof. Casali at the University of Viçosa.
Plants are impressive, formed by a large array of stems; leaves are glabrous; flowers and fruits form fascicles up to 15-20; immature fruits are greenish, ripe fruits are yellowish; seeds are straw/brownish; flower is pendulous not geniculate; corolla shows a sequence of 5 colors, light green in the throat, yellow, dark violet, violet and finally white in the lobes.

C.praetermissum is widespread; corolla is stellate or rotate with various colors and shapes; four plants with four different corolla shapes were present in a flower-bed at Biritiba Mirim.

C.baccatum var. baccatum is also rather widespread; corolla is rotate with yellow spots in the lobes.

We didn’t find any population of Capsicum campylopodium Sendtn., although this species is reported to be rather common.