Christmas Bell Chillies

Christmas Bell Chillies I get pretty confused around chillies; I once acquired a dozen different types in pots, and grew them all on for seed, moving them about until the labels were hopelessly muddled. Nevertheless, the plants still exist in the garden, and as far as they are concerned, I can come up with any name I like…it matters not to them.

And so, when sitting down to write this story, I was convinced that I was going to talk about Scotch Bonnet (Bell Lantern) chillies. A quick check on the internet made it clear Scotch Bonnet chillies looked nothing like my plant, and there is no such thing as a Bell Lantern chilli – I must have dreamt that up myself.

Christmas Bell Chillies form large straggly bushes weighted down with fruit and needing to be staked.

This particular plant is about five years old and about 1.5m tall, and just keeps on spreading out, though I stake it to try to keep it off the path (pruning it wouldn’t hurt either). It’s a very mild chilli – about 5 out of 10 on the heat scale – and can almost be eaten like a capsicum (pepper).Dried Christmas Bell Chillies I’ve kept the seed by drying them on a cotton thread hung in the kitchen. I’ll just crush these up now to separate the seeds, then the hard work will begin – finding someone who wants to grow some too.

And so what chilli is it really?

My best guess is that it is a South American chilli originating in Barbados, from whence it found its way to Europe via Brazil and the Portuguese, and then by devious routes down here to Australia. Wikipedia calls it a Bishop’s Crown chilli, a variety of the species Capsicum baccatum var. pendulum. 

Perhaps it is, perhaps it is not. For whatever its genealogy, it’s a pretty and hardy bush, and the mild flavour is just fine for a palate used to the fairly bland flavours of English/Irish/German dishes.Capsicum baccatum var. pendulum - maybe!

14 comments:

becky3086 said...

It looks so nice. I wish we could keep our chili peppers growing year after year like this.

Sean L said...

Wow, that's one spectacular Bishop's Crown bush. Wish mine would grow like that but yeah, they grow kinda straggly. Saved some seeds when I was over there. Picking them green gives you peppers that have hotter placental tissue. The green markings on the petals, together with the anther colour can be used to distinguish C. baccatum from other peppers.

Liz said...

I am growing this same chilli in Melbourne and it came from seed which definitely called the variety Scotch Bonnet. Having said that I've had Scotch Bonnet chillies elsewhere in the world and their shape has been different and they were much much hotter. Unfortunately I can't find the seed packet which I think had its proper latin name on it. If I do locate it I'll let you know.

Savithri said...

I've had a plant of the same variety for the last 5 to 6 years giving me an enormous amount of chillies every year. In the first season, they weren't that hot but subsequently they've gotten hotter and when it's red it can be quite fiery,that's if you have them with the seeds. I find that the flesh has a sweetness to it too. If you prune it in Winter you get a better crop and the plant lasts longer.

David Latham said...

I also have them in Melbourne and I thought they were just called bell chilies,I am growing it in a pot by my back door and had makeshift scaffolding made from long sticks to train the branches upward. How much pruning should i give them, just this years growth or right back to the main trunk?

David Latham said...

Just found this on another site.
Bell Chilli - Capsicum frutescens:
http://www.beautanicals.com.au/chilli.html

Chris | Glen Hopes said...

Thanks for all the information, I just brought a few back from my Aunt's garden in Toowoomba. I wasn't quite game to try them, as she said they were hot - I wasn't sure of their heat scale - after reading your comments, I tried one and found her crop to be extremely mild- no heat at all, very much like a capsicum - so it will be interesting when we grow some to see if any heat occurs.

riki jorden said...

Thanks for sharing information on this blog, i have visited your blog great post....!!!!

Seedlings toowoomba











JONES WILSON said...

Excellent information provide for us.....................thanks for sharing
Mulching toowoomba

Linda Atkinson said...

We have been growing these Chilli's for 12 yrs now and have never known their correct name as they are hard to identify. We love them and so do the local Bower Birds who sneak into our Garden in the early hours and steel a few. We grow new plants with seeds we keep as we have never seen them for sale anywhere. They taste fabulous and pack quite a punch if you eat one seeds and all. Remove the seeds and use and a tasty addition to any meal or salad if you don't want the heat. We live at Jervis Bay NSW.

Ray Smillie said...

Hi Lovely bush...
is this one just HOT or flavour and HOT ???
I used to have one like this but it died all replacements have only been HOT with little flavour---

if the flavour is good could I score some seed for next years season ??

Burnside area SA

chris vogas said...

Thanks for sharing such valuable information.. I am very lucky to get this tips from you.

Frik Schoombee said...

Thank you for this informative site. I have a few of these (also had my own name for them)growing in our garden in Southern Spain. We are South Africans and have a similar (though not bell shaped)Chilli trademarked/registered as Peppadew in South Africa that is mild and sweet and quite popular pickled. Well, our Christmas Bell Chillies did the thing for us here in Spain. It is mild (seeds removed), very much the same taste as our beloved peppadews and very popular with guests when we stuff the pickled chillies with feta cheese! The pickle 'brine' is of the sweet sour type with the sugar/vinegar ratio to taste. Try it, really great! (PS: now have 9 Peppadew plans from seeds beginning to flower for the first time here in Spain. They have to be great to beat our Christmas Bells!!!!! Frik Schoombee

MANO said...

I HAVE THIS CHRISTMAS BELL CHILLIE PLANT IN MY GARDEN IN SOUTH AFRICA. IT JUST POPPED UP THREE YEARS AGO AND HAS PRODUCED EXCELLENT CROPS ALL YEAR ROUND.I GUESS I'M LUCKY TO HAVE THIS HERE IN SA. I AM SURPRISED TO KNOW THAT IT IS ENJOYED THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.THANKS FOR THE TIPS ON HOW TO USE THEM.

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