Capsicum coccineum (Rusby) Hunz., Huitieme Congr. Int. Bot. Paris. Comptes Rend. Seances Rapp. & Commun. 1954, sect.4: 73. 1956.

Barboza, Gloria E., Garcia, Carolina Carrizo, Bianchetti, Luciano de Bem, Romero, Maria V. & Scaldaferro, Marisel, 2022, Monograph of wild and cultivated chili peppers (Capsicum L., Solanaceae), PhytoKeys 200, pp. 1-423 : 1

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Capsicum coccineum (Rusby) Hunz., Huitieme Congr. Int. Bot. Paris. Comptes Rend. Seances Rapp. & Commun. 1954, sect.4: 73. 1956.


12. Capsicum coccineum (Rusby) Hunz., Huitieme Congr. Int. Bot. Paris. Comptes Rend. Seances Rapp. & Commun. 1954, sect.4: 73. 1956.

Figs 49 View Figure 49 , 50 View Figure 50

Brachistus coccineus Rusby, Bull. New York Bot. Gard. 8(28): 117. 1912. Type. Bolivia. La Paz: [Prov. A. Iturralde]. San Buena Ventura, 1400 ft, 18 Nov 1901, R.S. Williams 634 (lectotype, designated by Barboza 2011, pg. 25: NY [00138552]; isolectotypes: BM [BM000884131], CORD [CORD00006961 fragment ex NY], K [K000648541]).

Lycianthes coccinea (Rusby) Rusby, Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 53: 210. 1926. Type. Based on Brachistus coccineus Rusby


Based on Brachistus coccineus Rusby.


Sprawling vines or scrambling shrubs, (1-) 1.5-7 m tall, with the main stem thick, 2-3 cm in diameter at base, few to much branched, the branches scandent. Young stems strongly angled, fragile, brown or green, glabrous, glabrescent or moderately pubescent, with antrorse, curved, simple, uniseriate, 4-6-celled, eglandular trichomes 0.3-0.9 (-1.2) mm long; nodes solid, green; bark of older stems green or brown with lighter stripes, glabrescent; lenticels absent. Sympodial units difoliate, the leaves geminate, rarely solitary; leaf pair unequal in size, similar in shape. Leaves membranous, concolorous, sometimes brilliant, glabrous to moderately pubescent on both sides and especially along the main veins abaxially, with simple trichomes like those of the stems, sometimes trichomes in tufts in the vein axils beneath; blades of major leaves 4.7-13 (-15) cm long, (1.7-) 2.1-5 cm wide, ovate to elliptic, the major veins 5-7 on each side of mid-vein, prominent abaxially, the base attenuate or short-attenuate and barely unequal, the margins entire, the apex acuminate; petioles 1-1.8 cm long, moderately pubescent; blades of minor leaves 3.2-4.8 cm long, 1.4-1.6 cm wide, elliptic or ovate, the major veins 3-4 on each side of mid-vein, the base short-attenuate, the margins entire, the apex acute; petioles 0.3-0.4 cm long, moderately pubescent. Inflorescences axillary, 4-13 (-18)-flowers on a short rachis 1.5-3 mm long; flowering pedicels 5-15 mm long, angled, erect, geniculate at anthesis, green, glabrescent to moderately pubescent, the eglandular trichomes short, antrorse; pedicel scars prominent, corky. Buds ovoid, colour unknown. Flowers 5-merous. Calyx 1-2.2 mm long, ca. 2 mm wide, cup-shaped, thick, slightly 5-nerved, green, sparsely pubescent with the same eglandular trichomes as the stems, calyx appendages absent or 2-10 unequal, the five longer appendages, 0.8-1.3 (-2) mm long, the shorter appendages 0.2-0.5 mm, filiform, erect, sparsely pubescent with the same trichomes as the calyx tube. Corolla (5-) 6.5-8 mm long, ca. 7-8 mm in diameter, yellow outside, usually yellow with yellowish-green or purple-brown spots within, stellate with interpetalar membrane, lobed nearly halfway to the base, pubescent adaxially with abundant long glandular trichomes (stalk 2-4-celled; head peltate, unicellular) in the throat and the lobes, the tube 2.5-3.5 mm, glabrous abaxially, the lobes 2.3-3.8 mm long, 2.4-3.4 mm wide, broadly triangular or ovate, the margins involute, sparsely pubescent (2-3-celled eglandular trichomes) abaxially, the tips cucullate and papillate. Stamens five, equal; filaments 0.9-1.9 mm long, purple, lilac or greyish, inserted on the corolla 1.2-1.4 mm from the base, with auricles fused to the corolla at the point of insertion; anthers 1.3-2 mm long, ellipsoid, dull yellow or light brown, not connivent at anthesis. Gynoecium with ovary ca. 1.5 mm long, 1 mm in diameter, light green, ovoid; ovules more than 2 per locule; nectary ca. 0.3 mm tall; styles homomorphic, 3-4 mm, barely exserted beyond the anthers, purple or white, clavate; stigma ca. 0.2 mm long, 0.6 mm wide, discoid or globose, light green. Berry (6-) 7-9 mm in diameter, globose, green to brown when immature, turning to orange, glossy red or reddish-orange at maturity, only 2-4 fruits per inflorescence, deciduous, pungent, pericarp thick, opaque, with giant cells (endocarp alveolate); stone cells 0-4; fruiting pedicels 10-18 mm long, erect, faintly angled, widened distally, green; the fruiting calyx 4-5.5 mm in diameter, persistent, not accrescent, discoid, rotate or reflexed, green, margin entire or sometimes ripped, the appendages up to 2.2 mm long, spreading or reflexed. Seeds (2-) 4-9 (-13) per fruit, 4-4.6 mm long, (2.8-) 3.2-3.75 mm wide, C-shaped or teardrop-shaped, yellow to brownish-yellow, the seed coat faintly reticulate (SM), reticulate-cerebelloid (SEM), the cells irregular and elongate near hilum, the lateral walls sinuate to straight at seed margin; embryo annular or imbricate.


Capsicum coccineum grows from eastern Peru (Ayacucho, Cuzco, Huánuco, Junín, Loreto, Madre de Dios, San Martín and Ucayali Departments) to north-central Bolivia (Beni, Cochabamba, La Paz, Pando and Santa Cruz Departments) and western Brazil (Acre, Amazonas and Rondônia States) (Fig. 51 View Figure 51 ).


Capsicum coccineum is a common species of the Amazon Basin lowlands, found in tropical evergreen moist forests or in deciduous subtropical forests along the eastern Andes. It grows on scrubby banks of roads through disturbed forests, along river edges and streams or in flooded areas, usually in the sun, between 150 and 800 m elevation.


Flowering mainly from September to March; fruiting all year.

Chromosome number.

Not known.

Common names.

Bolivia: Pimienta (Santa Cruz, Steinbach 5373), Ají del monte (Beni, Killen et al. 3415; Cochabamba, Thomas & Berdeja 1428; Sud Yungas, Seidel & Vaquiata 7689); Brazil: Pimentinha (Acre, Daly 9979); Peru: Ají silvestre (Loreto, Mc Daniel 14075; Huánuco, Woytkowski 7516), Ajicillo ( Huánuco, Schunke V. 10620), Ajisillo (San Martín, Schunke V. 3415), Charapilla ( Huánuco, Schunke V. 9984), Charapillo ( Huánuco, Schunke V. 12469), Chintillo (San Martín, Plowman & Schunke V. 11523), Sacha Ají ( Huánuco, Schunke V. 9984), Sacha charapillo (Ucayali, Schunke & Graham 16612), Ají silvestre liana (Loreto, Mc Daniel & Santiago 2556).

Indigenous names.

Bolivia: Meñu winno ( Yuracaré, Cochabamba, Thomas & Berdeja 1428), Hpochetgi (Trinitario, Cochabamba, Thomas & Berdeja 1428); Tá yejti ( Mosetén, La Paz, Vargas et al. 1310), Neshita’mo (Beni, Guareco 457).


The fruits are used as condiments in Bolivia (Steinbach 5373, Rivero 218), but on a lesser scale than other wild species ( ‘ulupica’ or ‘aribibi’). In Peru, fruits are used to prepare curare (Woytkowski 7516). The entire plant is used as a medicine (see Table 3 View Table 3 ).

Preliminary conservation assessment.

EOO (987,169.745 km2); AOO (336 km2). Capsicum coccineum occupies a large range along the lowlands of the Amazon Basin in well preserved areas, as well as in fragmented forests. The species inhabits in reduced subpopulations along the main effluents of the Amazon drainage basin (Rivers Beni, Ucayali, Purús, Huallaga, Apurimac, Madre de Dios, Río Acre, Surutú and others) and in many conservation units where is expected that it is not in a serious risk of threat. However, due to the continuing decline of the quality of the habitat outside of natural reserves, we assign C. coccineum the Near Threatened (NT) category.


Capsicum coccineum has been placed in the Bolivian clade, although such placement is only moderately supported ( Carrizo García et al. 2016; Barboza et al. 2019). The relationships of C. coccineum should be analysed in depth, especially with regard to its phenotypic variability (see below) and wide geographic distribution. This shrubby species is the only one in the genus with a notable scrambling vine habit; its very fragile branches are supported on the trunks of other trees or shrubs. This habit, along with the inflorescence, with nearly 18 flowers on a short rachis, the short, strongly ridged pedicels, the corky scars of the pedicels, the small corollas and the reflexed fruiting calyx, are the most diagnostic characters for this species.

Two morphs of C. coccineum can be distinguished, based on the number of calyx appendages. The first morph, which includes the type collection, has a calyx with 10 unequal appendages or 2-10 appendages; the second morph has a calyx lacking appendages. Populations from Bolivia generally have calyx appendages, while populations from Peru and Brazil exhibit both morphs. Further fieldwork throughout the range of C. coccineum is needed to elucidate if the variability observed in the calyx morphology is an intraspecific variation or if a cryptic species is involved. Similarly, corolla colour is also variable in this species and deserves more attention in the field. Some collector labels mention a uniform corolla colour (yellow, cream, brilliant greenish-yellow), while others indicate dull yellow corollas with yellowish-green spots within or with purple-brown or violet centre. Variations in corolla colour and degree of development of the calyx appendages are observed in other species from the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, for example, C. schottianum .

In Bolivia, C. coccineum is sympatric with C. minutiflorum and C. baccatum var. baccatum . All three of these entities share red globose pungent fruits on erect pedicels. Capsicum coccineum differs from C. minutiflorum in its scrambling vine habit vs. erect shrubby habit, multi-flowered inflorescence (up to 18 flowers) vs. few-flowered inflorescence (up to five flowers) and calyx appendages absent or 2-10 vs. usually five appendages. Capsicum baccatum var. baccatum differs from C. coccineum in the same set of contrasting characters and in its corolla colour that is white (vs. yellow or cream) and the dimorphic styles (vs. homomorphic styles). The fruits of C. baccatum var. baccatum can also be ellipsoid.

Specimens examined.

See Suppl. material 4: Appendix 4.