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Rocoto Pepper, Tagetes

Rocoto Pepper, Tagetes


I thought that you might be interested to know that the rocoto pepper that you gave me last
June is doing quite well -- it has grown to the point where it is beginning to need the support of a trellis.

I hope that it overwinters without too much damage; the only place I could find for it in the yard is in a bit of a frost hollow. I put it in a half-barrel under the white sapote, so it will at least get a little protection from radiative cooling.

Sadly, the "Santa Cruz" sapote grafts I attempted did not take, so I'll have to get more scionwood from you at some point.

The "Huatacay" (sp?) tagetes plant you gave me is now nearly six feet tall. And, at the time of acquisition, I would have given very low odds of the plant even surviving, given that it was yanked up out of the ground with few roots on a broilingly hot day. I did a web search on the plant and found that in some locales it is considered to be an invasive weed, so if it sets seed this year I may have lots of it next ...

If only I could figure out what to do with it! I know that they use it to make pesto-like salsas in its native range. At the latest Golden Gate CRFG chapter meeting I met a new member hailing originally from Bolivia, and she said that she could provide recipes.
I'm going to have to follow up on that with her!


The following thread was started by Ashok on September 28, 2002 at 9:24 pm PST

Rocoto color: black!

All: rocoto = Capsicum pubescens, perennial "tree pepper" of the Andes.
Ashok: What color are the peppers on your rocoto?
Axel: What color are immature rocotos typically? The plants I grew from your seed have set blackish peppers. I don't think they're mature yet, but I was thinking they'd likely be yellow or red, depending on the color of the seed parent. Or is it just typical that immature rocotos are black? Also, what is your experience with the "heat" of these? I've heard somewhat conflicting things. The website run by the Rocoto-guy in San Jose I think says that they're the hottest pepper known (Scoville units off the charts). But I think someone in Berkeley who grew them said that they were really quite mild. Is this something where all the heat is in the seeds/seed core? Who else out there on this forum has grown these?

The above followup was added by Tom A. on September 30, 2002 at 4:30 pm PST.

Too hot to be enjoyable...

Tom A.,

I grew some in South SF in the past. They were not really flavorful and the heat was like a chemical burn. I do not know if they are the hottest but they probably compete with scott bonnet, red sevina, and Habaneros.

I did not like them and saw no reason to keep growing them as they really couldn't be used by most people. But it is always interesting to find a plant hardy enough to survive our weather and keep fruiting.


The above followup was added by Shawn on September 30, 2002 at 4:46 pm PST.

Rocotos and Huatacay


Huatacay is not much of an invasive threat here because we don't have the combination of heat/rain. When it rains here it's usually quite cool. I get plenty of Huatacay to germinate in irrigated areas, but they don't grow in non-irrigated parts of my garden. By the time it's warm enough, there's no more rain.

Rocotos are frost sensitive, but can take a lot of chill. They should be fine with a little protection from frost.

Tom A., Shawn,

My rocotos are also black until they ripen, at which point they turn color to either yellow or red.

I am surprised to hear anyone not liking them. The skin is 100% mild, tasting like regular bell peppers. The seeds, however, are hot enough to burn your skin, so use gloves when handling the seeds. Because only the seeds are hot, it makes it more difficult to cook with them and get the spiciness to blend in with the rest of the food. But it can be done. The flavor is quite nice.


The above followup was added by Axel on September 30, 2002 at 6:17 pm PST.

Rocoto Color/Flavor


I haven't gotten any fruit yet, so I don't know what color it will be. I actually have two plants in a half-barrel. One was from Axel, the other was actually a plant that you propagated. Idell gave me that one -- she said that she had decided that it would probably produce fruit too hot for her to enjoy. (I didn't realize that you got your seed from Axel -- my plants therefore all ultimately come from his stock.)

On fruit quality, I have heard/read a number of conflicting reports. (And now several more on this thread!) Either on the site (as I recall), or possibly elsewhere, I've read glowing descriptions of the fruit: hot, but with a "warming" rather than burning heat, and having a complex, fruity flavor. But Shawn feels they have no flavor and "chemical burn" scale heat. I'll have to wait until I get fruit to decide for myself.

Of course, flavor/capsaicinoid content will probably vary genetically within the species, and the climate/soil in which a plant is grown will also affect fruit quality.


The above followup was added by Ashok on October 01, 2002 at 1:18 am PST.

This is interesting!

Chemical warfare or mild bell peppers? Will the real rocoto please stand up! Thanks all for their experience and thoughts. I'll be curious to see how they come out. Hopefully I'll be able to cut out the seed core and use the flesh/walls with impunity. Regular peppers just don't work well for me in this heat-challenged climate, so should be an interesting experiment to see how these do. Hopefully the fruit on the plant now will ripen before winter.

The above followup was added by Tom A. on October 01, 2002 at 5:05 pm PST.

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