How hot are your chilies?

Love Chilies

Love Chilies

Ah February, the month of Love… and chilies! My garden is full of ripening peppers – from the big fat sweet ones to the tiny, but seriously hot ones. With such a variety of capsicums growing, I always have to be ready for the all important question that everyone asks: “How HOT are these?”

Not… “How does it grow?”, “Does it yield high?”, “What do you use it for?”, “When do they fruit?”,… but always “How hot?”




So, I decided to make little notes for each of the chilies I have now. Next year, I hope to have another 10 different varieties to add to this list. 😀

First off, let’s talk quickly about the Scoville scale. The Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) Scale is the generally accepted the standard in measurement of the heat or pungency of peppers. Developed by a pharmacist, Wilbur Scoville, in 1912, it is an imprecise measurement because it is dependent on how sensitive testers are to the capsaicin content of peppers. Nevertheless, it gives us a good indication of just how hot a pepper is.

While bell peppers are rated at 0 SHU, and everyone’s favourite – the Jalapeno chili, gets between 3500 and 8000 SHU, the hottest pepper known, the Trinidad Scorpian Pepper, is rated at 2,000,000 SHU. That’s HOT!!

Here’s a list of the chili plants that I am currently growing and their Scoville Heat Unit Ratings in ascending order:

How hot are my chilies?

Tequila Bell PepperTequila Bell Pepper

What a beauty! A sweet bell pepper with a lovely dark purple, almost black colour.Packs no heat.



Cayanetta chili pepperCayennetta

This little chili was a winner in some recent American Garden Show, and I can understand why.It is a gorgeous little plant, compact with a branching habit, and it works beautiful in containers.Yields profusely.Fruit are green turning to bright red when ripe. Mildly spicy.


< 3 500 SHU
Flame JalapenoFlame

A beautiful Jalapeno pepper, the plant does well in pots in a warm sunny position.Fruit are highly uniform with glossy walls. High yielding.It has a good pungency level.


3 500 – 5 000 SHU
Loco PepperLoco

A gorgeous bush of multi-coloured fruits, this is definitely my favourite as far as looks go.A heavy yield of smallish oval fruits ripen from purple to bright red.


24 000 SHU
Chenzo PepperChenzo

Another beauty for a potted chili garden with a compact branching habit and high yield of dark, almost black fruit, ripening to a beautiful bright red.



45 000 SHU
Cayenne PepperCayenne

Another popular chili pepper, the cayenne is an attractive plant producing an early maturing fruit.This vigorous plant has a high yield of smooth tapered fruit that are quite long (14cm) and ripen from a beautiful green to a bright red.


30 000 –
50 000 SHU
Basket of FireBasket of Fire

The name says it all! This plant looks like a basket of fire with upright growing fruits like white, yellow, orange and red flames. It is really a very attractive chili.This prolific bearer is semi-trailing and is lovely in hanging baskets. The fruits are small, borne upright and range in colour from deep purple, through cream and orange to a bright red.


80 000 SHU
African Birds' Eye PepperAfrican Birdseye Chili

Also known as Piri-piri Sacana, this is one seriously hot little chili.This small fruited chili is a hybrid and has an upright open growing habit.The fruit are about 4cm long, uniform and glossy.


80 000 – 
100,000 SHU
Fatalii PepperFatalii

As the name suggests, this is almost “fataly hot”. Rated among the top 7 hottest chilies in the world, this has a serious pungency!Comes with a warning label! It is a relative of the Habanero and comes from Central African Replublic. The fruits mature to a gorgeous golden colour and have little wrinkled wedges.It has a lovely flavour besides the heat that it packs and can be used very sparingly in sauces and condiments.



The Fatalii is commonly listed as somewhere in the top 7 hottest chilies worldwide. They smell absolutely gorgeous and I cannot wait for them to ripen a bit more so that I can try one in a big pot of sauce 😉

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