Arizona Vegetable & Fruit Gardening For The Arizona Desert Environment.
Pictures, Photos, Images
Descriptions, Information, & Reviews.
Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'

Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'. Plant. Arizona Vegetable & Fruit Gardening For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions,  Information, & Reviews.
Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'.
Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Young Plant. Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'. Plant. Yarnell, Az. Arizona Vegetable & Fruit Gardening For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions,  Information, & Reviews.
Young Plant. Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'.
Photo Taken At Yarnell, Arizona. 6-24-2011.
Young Plant. Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'. Plant. Yarnell, Az. Arizona Vegetable & Fruit Gardening For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions,  Information, & Reviews.
Same Young Plant. Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'.
Photo Taken At Yarnell, Arizona. 7-31-2011.

Rocoto Flower Bud With Trichomes. Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'. Flower. Arizona Vegetable & Fruit Gardening For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions,  Information, & Reviews.Flower. Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'. Arizona Vegetable & Fruit Gardening For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions,  Information, & Reviews.
Rocoto Flower Bud With Trichomes.
Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'.
Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Flower - Purple Corolla With White Center Spots.
Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'.
Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Three Day Old Sprout. Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'. Flower. Arizona Vegetable & Fruit Gardening For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions,  Information, & Reviews.Ten Day Old Sprout. Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'. Arizona Vegetable & Fruit Gardening For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions,  Information, & Reviews.
Three Day Old Sprout.
Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'.
Ten Day Old Sprout.
Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'.
Leaf  Structure. Flower Points Downward. Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'. Flower. Arizona Vegetable & Fruit Gardening For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions,  Information, & Reviews.Flower . Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'. Arizona Vegetable & Fruit Gardening For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions,  Information, & Reviews.
Leaf Structure. Flower Points Downward.
Photo Taken At Yarnell, Arizona. 7-31-2011.
Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'.
Flower Is Rather Flat. Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'.
Flower. Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'. Flower. Arizona Vegetable & Fruit Gardening For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions,  Information, & Reviews.Flower . Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'. Arizona Vegetable & Fruit Gardening For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions,  Information, & Reviews.
Flower. Photo Taken At Yarnell, Arizona. 7-31-2011.
Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'.
Flower. Photo Taken At Yarnell, Arizona. 7-31-2011.
Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'.
Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'. Flower. Arizona Vegetable & Fruit Gardening For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions,  Information, & Reviews.Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'. Arizona Vegetable & Fruit Gardening For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions,  Information, & Reviews.
Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'.Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'.
Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'. Flower. Arizona Vegetable & Fruit Gardening For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions,  Information, & Reviews.Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'. Arizona Vegetable & Fruit Gardening For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions,  Information, & Reviews.
Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'.Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'.
Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'. Flower. Arizona Vegetable & Fruit Gardening For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions,  Information, & Reviews.Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'. Arizona Vegetable & Fruit Gardening For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions,  Information, & Reviews.
Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'.Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'.
Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'. Flower. Arizona Vegetable & Fruit Gardening For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions,  Information, & Reviews.Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'. Arizona Vegetable & Fruit Gardening For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions,  Information, & Reviews.
Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'.Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'.

Rocoto Pepper
Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto', Nightshade or Potato Family (Solanaceae), Commonly Known As: Rocoto Pepper. AKA: Locoto, Luqutu (Aymara), Ruqutu (Quechua), Tree Peppers, Tree Chili, Manzano, Llatti - in the Andes, Chile Nuanzana, Civic Cuadro Caldo, and other names in Guatemala.

Chili Peppers History

According to Purdue University; residents of the Americas have eaten chili peppers since about 7500 B.C., and Native Americans began growing them possibly as early as 5200 B.C.. Chili peppers are consequently one of the oldest crops cultivated in the Western Hemisphere. People in Europe, Africa and Asia learned of chili peppers through Christopher Columbus. He encountered a Capsicum plant during his first voyage to the New World in about 1492 and called the unfamiliar item "red pepper" or "pepper", Spanish word "pimiento", in honor of its red pods and pungency, which reminded him of the well-known black pepper.

At that time peppercorns, the fruit of Piper nigrum, an unrelated plant originating from India, were a highly prized condiment; the name “pepper” was at that time applied in Europe to all known spices with a hot and pungent taste and so naturally extended to the newly discovered Capsicum genus. The most commonly used alternative name of the plant family, “chili”, is of Central American origin. Like their relatives, the chili peppers, bell peppers are thought to have originated in South America with seeds of a wild variety dating back to 5000 BC.

Capsicum is the botanical genus name of approximately 27 species of pepper, which include about 22 wild types and five cultivated varieties.

Although many people consider them vegetables, peppers in the Capsicum genus are actually a berry form of fruit.

They also are one of the vegetables from the nightshade (Solanaceae) family which includes eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes.

These Capsicum peppers are commonly known as chile with an "e," which is the Spanish spelling, or chili with a final "i," which is the English variation of the noun.

The five domesticated varieties of Capsicum peppers are Capsicum annuum, Capsicum baccatum, Capsicum chinense, Capsicum frutescens and Capsicum pubescens.

Capsicum annuum, the best-known type, includes paprika, Cayenne pepper, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, and green and red peppers.

Capsicum chinense includes the notoriously hot habanero pepper, and Capsicum frutescens includes tabasco pepper, in the popular tabasco sauce. The more obscure Capsicum baccatum and Capsicum pubescens include Peruvian peppers and apple chile, respectively.

Capsicum peppers are native to Central America, North America and South America, although residents of many warmer areas, such as Africa and India, also cultivate them. The Capsicum annum variety is native to southern regions of the United States, including Florida and Texas, and both it and Capsicum pubescens are native to Mexico, as well. Capsicum peppers are more prevalent natively in South America, where the five varieties are common in locations that include the present day countries of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela.

Today, Mexico is the major pepper producer in the world.

Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto'.

Rocoto is the name given to the Capsicum pubescens (pew-BES-enz) species of chillies. It is found primarily in Central and South America. The name pubescens means hairy, which refers to the hairy leaves of this pepper. The plants, but especially the fruits, are often referred to as Rocoto and Locoto. Of all the domesticated species of peppers this is the least widespread and systematically furthest away from all others. A very notable feature of this species is its ability to withstand cooler temperatures than other pepper plants.

Pubescens is probably the least common on the five domesticated species of Capsicum, and is the only domesticated Capsicum species with no wild form. However two wild species 'Cardenasii' and 'Eximium' are believed to be closely related. Pubescens has a compact to erect habit (sometimes sprawling and vine like) and can grow up to 8 feet tall, although 2 feet is more usual. The flowers have purple corollas, purple and white anthers and stand erect from the leaves. The pods are normally pear or apple shaped.

One interesting point to note is that the species is "isolated" from the other domesticated species since it cannot cross pollinate with them. Another distinguishing feature of the species is the black seeds of the fruits. Varieties include the Peruvian 'Rocoto' and the Mexican 'Manzano'. Probably the most difficult of the five domesticated species to grow.

The rocoto is peculiarly adapted to the 6,000-10,000 ft. altitude zone on both western and eastern slopes of the Andes. At lower altitudes in Peru the plant will survive and produce a few fruits, but scarcely any seeds. Above this belt low temperatures probably restrict growth. When tested at Davis, California, and elsewhere in the United States, it has not performed well.

Like all other species of the genus Capsicum and the plants of the species Capsicum pubescens, Rocoto chillies grow as a shrub or sometimes as climbing plants. They grow up to 13 feet tall relatively quickly, which gives them a tree-like appearance and they are called sometimes Tree Peppers. Sometimes rocoto is also referred to as a tree chili. They can live for up to 15 years.

How They Normally Grow:

After they sprout from a seed, the plant grows to a height of about 12 inches for the first time, then it branches giving it bushy appearance. More shoots develop from the leaf axils. Some varieties have purple discoloration on the branches, as can be observed in other Capsicum species. Rocoto peppers are the least widespread out of all of the domesticated peppers.

The leaves have a 5–12 mm long petiole and a leaf blade ovate to 5–12 cm long, 2.5 to 4 cm wide, tapering at the top and the base is wedge-shaped.

In addition to the relatively long life, Capsicum pubescens differs in many other characteristics from related species. Most striking is the hairy coating, which is on it leaves, stems, and sometimes found on the sepals of its flowers.

The flowers appear singly or in pairs (rarely growing up to four) on the shoots, and the branches are on about 1 cm long flower stems, which extend on the fruit to around 4–5 cm. The cup of the flower is filled with five triangular pointed teeth, which have a length of about 1 mm.

A distinct characteristic to other cultivated species of the genus Capsicum are its blue-violet-colored petals, with the center part being brighter. Often only the edges of the petals are colored. Sometimes the crown petals are hood-shaped, the intertwined portions of the crown petals are folded clear. The anthers are purple.

In agriculture, C. pubescens is grown almost exclusively as the variety "Rocoto" and is a popular form of chilli pepper with the local people. While there are other pubescens species, most are not cultivated and remain wild.

Capsicum pubescens fruits are round and oblong, with thick flesh (like bell peppers), but they are much hotter, and said by some people to have an apple flavor. They are between 2 - 5 inches in length. They are between 50,000 and 250,000 on the Scoville scale, which measures the amount of spicy heat in chili.

Capsicum pubescens fruit varies more than any other peppers in the size, shape, and color of its fruits. At least fourteen different fruit shapes have been recognized. They are green changing to red, orange-red, green, yellow, dirty yellow overlaid with brown, orange, & chocolate-brown, in color.

We have several photos of its fruit on this page, which we saw while visiting Peru in 2011.

Capsicum pubescens is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds and it is open-pollinated

It can be used for fresh (salsa, salads), stuffing, & drying.

They can be grown from seeds or from potting. If growing from seeds, sow indoors before last frost.

If collecting seeds, allow unblemished fruit to ripen; then clean and dry the seeds. Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored.

They take more than 80 days from planting to maturity.

Rocoto (Locoto) seeds are black - which adds beauty to the fruit and makes it look very unusual.

What is most important about Capsicum pubescens (called sometimes Tree Pepper) it can grow in colder climates, does not need that much warmth as other Capsicums. It survives also light frosts.

Flowers appear late, in August/September and it has a long growing season, so the best it to overwinter them, to see its abilities in subsequent years.

Germination 3-4 weeks.

Rocoto needs few plants of the same kind to pollinate and it requires hand pollination. Doesn't cross-pollinate with other kinds.

Attention! Leaves of C. pubescens produce toxins and the sap may cause irritations. Needs gloves for handling.

GENERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR ALL PEPPER GROWING:

1. Select a location in your garden that receives full sun. Prepare the garden, adding plenty of compost, manure, and a general fertilizer.

2. Plant seeds eight weeks before the last frost indoor using a pot that is at least 2 inches or slightly larger.

3. Transplant young seedlings outdoors after the last chance of frost. If the weather is still cool, delay transplanting for a few days. Wait until the soil is 70 to 85 degrees before setting the seedlings out. No matter what type of pepper you grow, they like the weather hot.

4. Space the seedlings 18 to 24 inches apart and in rows 24 to 36 inches apart. Spacing may vary by variety.

5. Water the plants regularly, especially in the hot, dry summer months. Pepper plants like moist soil. If you do not water enough, the bell peppers will acquire a bitter taste.

6. Surround the peppers with mulch to keep weeds from growing and to retain moisture. As the peppers develop, switch over to a fertilizer higher in Phosphorous and Potassium. Gardeners often make the mistake of providing too much nitrogen. The result is a great looking bushy, green plant, but few fruit.

7. Peppers are self pollinators. Occasionally, they will cross pollinate from pollen carried by bees or other insects. To minimize this possibility, don't plant hot and sweet peppers too close. Don't worry though, as it will not affect the fruit of this year's crop. The cross will show up in the genetics of the seeds, if you save them.

8. Dust for spider mites and aphids with an organic insecticide as needed.

HARVESTING AND STORAGE:

Days to Maturity: 100 to 120 days from seed; 70 to 85 days from transplants.

Harvest: Harvest sweet peppers when they reach an edible size or full size, while still in the green or yellow state. When allowed to mature on the plant, most varieties turn red, sweeten, and increase in vitamins A and C content. Cut instead of pulling to avoid breaking branches. Hot peppers are allowed to ripen and change color on the plant. Entire plants may be pulled and hung just before full frosts.

Approximate yields: 2 to 8 pounds per 10-foot row.

Amount to Raise: 3 to 10 pounds per person.

Storage: Medium-cool (45- 50 degrees F), moist (95% relative humidity) conditions for 2 to 3 weeks.

Preservation: Freeze; use in pickles and relishes or dried as spices.

HARVEST TIPS:
Use a sharp knife or pruning shears to cut off fruits when they are full size or later when they are fully colored. Not all immature fruits are green. Some varieties develop creamy yellow, lilac, or purple fruits in their immature stages. Mature fruits are sweeter than immature ones, but allowing fruits to mature sends a signal to the plant to stop producing new fruits, so overall yields will be less the more fruits you allow to mature.

COMMON PROBLEMS:

Diseases: Tobacco mosaic virus, phytophthora wilt, verticillium wilt, curly top virus, bacterial spot, anthracnose.

Insects: Aphids, flea beetles, cutworms, thrips, whitefly.

Cultural: Blossom end rot from moisture irregularities or calcium deficiency; blossom drop from night temperatures rising above 75° F or excessive fruit set on entire crop.

Type: Technically a Fruit, but considered a Vegetable.
Zones: USDA 8 - 9.
Height: 36 inches - 13 feet tall.
Spread: 18 - 36 inches wide.
Flowers: Solitary at each node (occasionally fasciculate). Pedicels usually declining at anthesis. Corolla milky white (occasionally purple), without diffuse spots at base of lobes; corolla lobes usually straight. Calyx of mature fruit without annular constriction at junction with pedicel (though sometimes irregularly wrinkled); veins often prolonged into short teeth. Bisexual, hypogynous and usually pentamerous. The flowers are complete, with calyx, corolla, and male and female sex organs. The diameter is 9-15 mm. The Capsicum calyx is broadly campanulate, ribbed, about 2 mm long, and truncate or undulate to weakly or prominently dentate with 5-7 teeth. The short-tubed corolla is rotate in most Capsicum species, with usually 5 but sometimes 6-7 petals in some species. The number of corolla lobes and stamens is equal. Typically the flowers have 5 stamens; the filaments are white or violet depending on the species (or variety), with the usually connivent to free anthers varying from bluish-purplish to yellow and white depending on the species. The pistil comprises an ovary of 2-3) carpels that is 2-5 mm long and 1.5-5 mm in diameter, a style 3.5-6.5 mm long, and a capitate papillate stigma slightly wider than the style. The style extends well beyond to just beyond the anthers or may be even with them, or it may be slightly exceeded by the anthers.
Blooming Time: Spring through Fall.
Fruit: Varies more than other peppers in the size, shape, and color of its fruits. At least fourteen different fruit shapes have been recognized. They are green changing to red, orange-red, green, yellow, dirty yellow overlaid with brown, orange, & chocolate-brown, in color.
Seeds: Large seeds that are either black or dark brown and have wavy edges. Distinguishes them from other species.
Leaves: Green in color, with a 5–12 mm long petiole and a leaf blade ovate to 5–12 cm long, 2.5 to 4 cm wide, the tapering at the top and the base is wedge-shaped.
Elevation: 4,864 - 10,800 feet.
Light: Sun for half day, then shade in Arizona Zone 8a.
Days to Maturity: 100 to 120 days from seed; 80 to 95 days from transplants.
Habitat: Rich well-drained, deep sandy loam soil with a 5.6 to 7.5 pH.
Native: Primarily north-eastern South America, as well as southern Central America. It is believed to have evolved from other, more primitive Capsicum species also occuring in the same area.
Miscellaneous: Hardy into zone 9 but does not take hard frosts. Grows best in Zone 8 - 9. This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds. Plant Photos Taken June 24, 2011 In Yarnell, Arizona.

Save $20 on any order of $40 or more!

Below Are Ads For Rocoto Pepper, Capsicum pubescens 'Rocoto' Seeds Or Plants
Sold Through Amazon.Com That We Recommend,
Click On The Item For A More Detailed Look. No Obligation!



Back To Arizona Vegetable & Fruit Gardening

Back To Arizona Xeriscape Landscaping Main Page

To Arizona Wild Flowers Home Page

Back To DeLange Home Page

Images And Text Copyright Eve & George DeLange.