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Floristic Inventory of the Florida Keys Database Online

Capsicum frutescens L.
Tabasco pepper

Family: Solanaceae

Group: Dicot

Substrate: Terrestrial

Habit: Herb

Perennation: Perennial

Native Range: Uncertain due to early widespread cultivation, but probably peninsular Florida, the West Indies, southern Mexico, Central America and South America.

IRC SOUTH FLORIDA Status: Imperiled

Map of select IRC data for peninsular Florida

SOUTH FLORIDA Occurrence: Present

SOUTH FLORIDA Native Status: Assumed to be Native

SOUTH FLORIDA Cultivated Status: Cultivated

Comments: Although we long considered this to be an exotic in South Florida, it may in fact be native to mainland peninsular Florida. The situation is complicated by the myriad taxonomic treatments of this, C. annuum, C. annuum var. glabriusculum and C. baccatum. Reports of C. frutescens from the Florida Keys, for instance, appear to be all misidentifications of C. annuum var. glabriusculum (e.g. Dickson s.n. FTG). However, on the mainland at least one record from Miami-Dade County and one record from Hendry County appear to be correctly identified and possibly native. C. frutescens can be distinguished from C. annuum var. glabriusculum by its longer (1.5-2.5 cm vs. c. 1 cm) cone-shaped fruits, often borne in pairs.

For more images of C. frutescens, click on the Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants link below.

Synonyms: C. baccatum, misapplied.

FLORIDA KEYS Occurrence: A Doubtfull Record

Map of select IRC data for the Florida Keys

Florida Keys History and Distribution: Reported in 1913 by John Kunkel Small for hammocks from the upper Keys to the lower Keys.  However, the description in the text does not conform to C. frutescens and overlaps with the characters of C. annuum var. glabriusculum.

Other data on Capsicum frutescens available from :

Capsicum frutescens has been reported from the following 5 conservation areas in the FLORIDA KEYS :
Occurrence Native Status
Biscayne National Park, Florida Keys Section Recorded as Present in Error
Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge A Doubtfull Record
Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammocks Botanical State Park A Doubtfull Record
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park A Doubtfull Record
National Key Deer Refuge A Doubtfull Record