Pepper plants are a long-time favorite in flower and fruit gardening guides home gardens and for use as
ornamental plants. There?s something very cheerful in the look of a bright
red chili pepper as it peeks out from its glossy-leafed hideaway!
Peppers are sliced, diced, frozen, cooked, stuffed, and pickled. The fruit
of the pepper plant makes a great addition to pasta salads, green salads,
main dish salads, and entr?s as well. In addition, a slice of sweet red
pepper, green pepper or the hotter jalapeno or chili pepper make an
excellent and tempting garnish to an entr?.
However, did you know that pepper plants have been cultivated for centuries
for their medicinal value? Pepper plants, although thought to originate in
Mexico, also were grown by ancient Peruvians who frequently offered hot
peppers to their Gods. The first pepper plants were brought to Europe by
Columbus. It?s interesting to note that his ship?s physician used peppers
both as a condiment and as a medicine on the trip back to Spain.
Pepper plants belong to the genus capsicum and all but green peppers contain
measurable amounts of the chemical capsaicin, which is the stuff that makes
them hot. Capsaicin is the main ingredient in many over-the-counter remedies
that provide relief for sore and strained muscles. In fact, user-friendly
manufacturers will often list cayenne pepper as the first active ingredient
of pain-relieving ointments. In addition to use as a liniment, capsaicin is
also used in medicines to improve digestion and to increase blood
circulation and metabolism.
Easily start pepper plants indoors from seeds for later transplanting into a
larger container or garden. Pepper plant seedlings for transplanting are
also available from local nurseries.
The pepper plant is a small shrub. It doesn?t take up much space. If well
cared for, a single plant will bear enough fruit during a season to both
spice up your summer time menus and preserve for winter use.
Depending on variety, pepper plants bear fruit in colors that range from
crimson to sunny yellows and emerald greens to deep purples. Eat healthy and
add diversity to both your garden and your menus by growing several
varieties of pepper plants.
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