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Cold hardy chili

 
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Meet Capsicum Flexuosum: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capsicum_flexuosum

It's a tiny little wild chili pepper from Brazil that can apparently survive all the way down to -15 degrees celcius and
maybe more (I've seen a claim that it could survive -25 celcius in preferred conditions).

I'd love to test it's limits and grow it out here in Quebec, I'm hoping that by acclimating it to my environment for a
few generations and giving it some basic protection, I can maybe get one to overwinter. It's also compatible with
standard peppers, so at the very worst, I might be able to get peppers to survive a few frosts.

There are also reports that it struggles with self fertility, which might prove an interesting avenue for promiscuously
pollinated peppers.

Taste report by a Nigel Carter:  

Grow report from a polish botanist:  [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/embed/fk38E2c9NNI?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en&autohide=2&wmode=transparent[/youtube]
Growing video by HRSeeds:  [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/embed/fk38E2c9NNI?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en&autohide=2&wmode=transparent[/youtube]

My seeds come from Small Island Seed Company (https://www.etsy.com/listing/766364261/cold-hardy-chili-pepper-seeds-capsicum).

Has anybody here grown them before ?
 
gardener
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This pepper is fascinating Patrick, thank you for posting about it.  The lack of a cavity and fruity flavor is also interesting for breeding to me.  Of course if it can handle frosts that is the most exciting bit to us northerners.  I will try growing some next spring as well with an eye towards crossing them.  If somehow we could get a chili to survive as a perennial up here that would be quite amazing, though I fear my winters are still much too cold for it.  If I can get a few to produce seed I will keep planting them out with fingers crossed for a survivor.  I will let you know if anything comes of any of this.  Much appreciated.
 
pollinator
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The chiltepin (aka tepin, pequin) Capsicum annuum v. glabriusculum grows wild in the Sierra Madre and some of the mountains of SE Arizona as a perennial. I came across healthy plants in a canyon in the Tumacacoris around 4500' elevation, where frosts are common and snow can fall once or twice in winter. I don't think that -15C would happen very often in that location, though, and the plants I saw were in sheltered locations, under nurse trees like hackberries and close to rock walls.

We used to get them seeded by birds in Tucson, where record lows were down to about -7C. But again, perennial examples of these would normally be found next to buildings and under trees or larger bushes. I grew them in containers and they stayed near the house over winter.
Staff note (Mike Barkley) :

This pepper is a perennial in parts of TX too. They can survive winters there but go dormant during winter. Excellent flavor. Spicy beasties too!!!

 
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I quite like the images on the Etsy listing. The plant looks like its just starting to die even with snow nearby. Early crosses with this may not be as tolerant to cold as flexuosum. Cold hardy tamarillo species, orange species etc - hybrids from them are usually cold / frost tolerant but not as much as the hardy parent. I would plant at least two different seedlings just for seed / pods. This way you have extra seed to work with. Afterwards could try planting different capsicums near it. Seems pretty exerted and wants to take in genetically different pollen. Granted it can self pollinate. Also possible that you may need to use "bridge species". Chromosome count is only one factor here, other barriers probably exist. More and more capsicum species are becoming available online recently. Pretty nice to see. This wouldn't survive winters for me, but it would extend the season a bit.
 
pollinator
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Oh no, yet another plant on the wish list. my winter low is -15 on rare occasions normally closer to -5/10 so it should be able to survive here if it can cope with the damp winters.
 
Patrick Marchand
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Garret Shantz:

The plant looks like its just starting to die even with snow nearby. Early crosses with this may not be as tolerant to cold as flexuosum


Yeah, I know, but even if I can simply have to worry less about my peppers in autumn, that's fine by me.


Also possible that you may need to use "bridge species". Chromosome count is only one factor here, other barriers probably exist.


Wikipedia says it's actually been used as a bridge species to cross other capsicums with the annuums.

This wouldn't survive winters for me, but it would extend the season a bit.


I'm in zone 4, so not expecting much either, but I'm wondering if a simple cold frame might do it, I've read accounts of brassicas surviving this way in other cold areas.

Skandi Rogers: Let me know if you try to grow it !
 
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This is great thread.  Much approve.
 
pollinator
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Darn, I just checked smallislandseed's etsy store and they are sold out. But on the bright side I just realized they are based in Nanaimo BC which is about 5 miles from our new place! So that probably means I can grow locally adapted plants of this variety if I can get seeds...maybe next year :)

No doubt they just got a huge run on those seeds from people who read about them on permies.

They seem to have a lot of other interesting peppers too though which for me is exciting because until now I have been ordering hot pepper seeds from Baker Creek. But now I know a local source! Thanks for posting about this Patrick Marchand!!
 
Patrick Marchand
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You're welcome Andrea ! They might have new seeds soon though, the packet I received was marked 2019, so perhaps the next batch is busy ripening as we speak.
 
Andrea Locke
pollinator
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Oh, that's good to know! Thanks, Patrick. I'll check back to their site in a while and maybe they'll have their 2020 seed batch for sale.
 
Skandi Rogers
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If any Europeans fancy it I think I found it for sale here. though he doesn't call it by the full name it certainly looks similar. The guy is in Finland he doesn't make any mention of overwintering (not surprising with their winters) it but does say it prefers to grow outside rather than in a greenhouse. The seeds are a bit expensive for me to buy as a fun thing so I have put it on my Christmas wish list. I now will wait and see.

 
Patrick Marchand
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Hey Skandi, the botanist I linked to in my opening post is in Poland and has many rare seeds , such as C. Flexuosum: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Hardy-Chili-Capsicum-flexuosum-frost-hardy-deciduous-shrub-15-fresh-seeds/323445825291
 
Patrick Marchand
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I planted 10 C. Flexusosum seeds from 2 different sources 2 weeks ago but have yet to see germination. I'll let you know if any come up, I still have a few seeds that I could try again with if none come up.
 
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I used to have seeds for this species at one point but was unable to get even one to sprout out of nine. It's sad because there are no longer local sources and the plant quarantine man is watching me closely.

I am going to attempt a more unlikely Rocoto(capsicum pubescens) cross with my white flower interspecific hybrids as it is easier to get seed.
 
Patrick Marchand
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I'm seeing germination of two of them ! That means that at least one of my sources was viable. I have three other seeds of that variety awaiting germination and a few more in the packet.
 
Patrick Marchand
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Unfortunately, my only two seedlings died a violent death when somebody accidentally kicked the tray... Oh well, I still have some seeds, so I'll simply have to try again later.
 
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