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Discussion in 'Plants: In the News' started by Junglekeeper, Dec 22, 2011.
Why the hottest chilies grow in the wettest places
New one on me, and I'm a bit dubious - the normal explanation is that capsaicin evolved because it discourages mammals (poor seed dispersers) from eating the fruit, while being attractive to birds (which are effective seed dispersers). If it is just a fungicide, why the different action on different seed dispersers?
The study is from The Royal Society which appears to be a reputable organization.
Never underestimate the power of good storytelling by ideologically driven individuals and organizations which are Peer Approved.
Ultimately there are probably more componants and variables which should be considered such as the sophistication with which the amazing genetic information within the immune system drives complex nano-machines to create a specific strategy for survival within any environment. I suppose it's irrevelant since this will be nothing more than water off a duck's back anyway.
In the state of New Mexico they grow some of the hottest chiles I've ever sampled and I love hot chiles. I've been in and around New Mexico much of my life as I have family and friends there. Now from what I remember, it's one of the driest and warmest climates next to Arizona and other Southwestern states. So why do they produce some of the hotest chiles ?
Now on another note, I love Chile Rellenos and have made them myself for years. I do however like a hot chile and unfortunately most Mexican Restaurants use what is called the California Chile or Anaheim Peppers (which I call Gringo chiles) which basically has no heat whatsoever. So I've used chile Chile Ancho/Poblano or Chile Pasilla which are much warmer. But again, they unfortunately for me don't have that long slender shape of the California. Though you can purchase something called a New Mexico Chile which can be very hot. My solution was to plant Anaheims in the garden and plant next to them Jalapenos or Seranos which would cross with their pollen(genetic instructions) for a warmer flavour of the Anaheim. It worked perfectly. Why low and behold there was new genetic information created during a single generation. I got long slender hot chiles for my cooking just exactly the way I like them. I think all original wild chiles started out hot in the beginning anyway and most all of the changes which have created the hundreds of varieties came not from luck of Dice Theory, but human selective intervention. I don't believe the article addressed such a componant. Of course I understand why.
I've never had issue ever growing chiles and fighting plant pathogens. Though I'm certain they must exist as an issue for some gardeners in different areas. Extremely hot weather will not allow for good pollination or flower and fruit set. But warmth itself definitely is a requirement for growing them. This of course makes it tough for folks in cool weather climates to do anything. Even here in Sweden we have problems just growing tomatoes outside without benefits of a greenhouse. I grew what I thought were beautiful tomatoes one warmer than usual lucky summer about three years ago and though georgous on the outside they were pithy and mealy on the inside with no flavour.
I use to subscribe to Chile Pepper Magazine which I believe is out of Texas. They had a great past article of combating disease and other pest problems by companion planting which I also have subscribed to in the past when I actually lived in an area where you could have a production garden. The article is entitled:
"Pepper Patch: Companion Crops":
Itâ€™s time to add cookout-worthy, companion crops to your pepper patch
On further note, a few days ago, @EurekaAlert! also carried a similiar article entitled
"To Turn Up the Heat in Chilies, Just Add Water"
There is also another good article from UC Davis on growing and cultivating chiles in California. Of course most readers here may have to adapt to greenhouse conditions over there in your Northwest.
Chile Pepper Production In California
As someone who grows chillies in a dry south of Portugal, i too found the conclusions surprising. Perhaps more important than total rainfall would be the rainfall / humidity at the time of flowering / fruit formation ?
Whilst the observations and experiments are clearly solid, I do wonder if they are over interpreting their results.
A pity that you find it so difficult to grow peppers and tomatoes now...perhaps a little global warming will help !
The climate here is horrible. Fortunately my wife and I are going to Tenneriffe at Spain's Canary Islands January 12th for about a week. We are staying across the road from the Botanical Gardens there. I'm hoping to collect some seed samples from plants in the pea family like, Prosopis , Acaicia , etc. I want to document the germination time and length by which the central tap root grows. I did it back in the 1970s on a whim in a large glass container with a Cat'sClaw Acacia (Acacia greggii) . Incredibly when the seed did germinate, it did nothing but put on a rather lengthy and continuous long tap root which when reaching the bottom of the large glass jar proceeded to spin around multiple revolutions arounf the bottom of the glass jar. After a month it finally sprouted a sprig of leaf about half an inch in length. Only then did I proceed to out plant it on a hillside above our house.
Incredibly the length of the tap root was over a meter long. I had to bore a long slender and meter deep hole to be able to accomadate the meter long root. What is amazing to me was that this long growth of the tap root first was just what the plant needs to survive in it's desert southwest environments. So apparently those instructions are encoded into it's DNA in order for the plant to succeed in such a hostile place and hopefully it happens under a nurse plant. If I can replicate what I did before, I'd like to photograph it and use it as an illustration to my own studies with something called Hydraulic Lift & Redistribution. Maybe I'll create a thread one day here, but understanding which key plants from any environment accomplish this phenomena goes a long way in determining just how to restore any plant habitat no matter what the life zone.
As far as gardening in Sweden it's mostly a bust. Most all produce here is imported from areas like your country. Unfortunately the quality isn't exactly the best. Best produce can be found at Immigrant owned stores who have connections back in their homelands. Mostly Middle-Eastern and Asian stores.
My wife just purchased some ingredients for making Salsa tonight. We're having friends over for Mexican food tomorrow night. Many of the chiles like Jalapenos and such have had some of the fire bred out of them here for Northern Europeans who are so sensitive to heat they can actually burn their lips on catsup. (kidding)
The Habaneros however are still pretty Nuclear.
I am sorry that you have a poor experience with foods imported from southern europe. I suspect that much of what you get is produced in the industrial horticulture of southern Spain which relies heavily on chemical inputs and grows much under plastic. ...obviously anyway we keep the best for ourselves here in Portugal !! The fresh fruit and vegetables here are fantastic. This week the especial treat is the tangerines and clementines which are starting into season - I will pick my first tangerines tomorrow for Christmas.
Portugal claims to have introduced chillies to europe, India and the far east, but the range here is small (I only saw 4 varieties in the market today) and not very hot. They are mainly used in piri piri sauce served with grilled chicken. Each family has its own secret recipe for the sauce - most are mild but some are atomic.
I think that you should indeed start a new thread on hydraulic redistribution - i am sure that others would be interested.
boas festas !
Yes unfortunately most EU Industrial Approved farming practices done in Europe are heavily dependent on chemcial fertilizers and pesticides. Almost all of the tomatoes sold here are of the Netherlands hydroponic variety. Absolutely tasteless.
Actually if I do, it would be beneficial for you to really read and digest a piece posted here that Daniel Mosquin did on what are called "Mycorrhizal Networks". It's dealing with a very huge componant of just how all ecosystems and in particular certain specific plants accomplish Hydraulic - Lift - Redistribution & Descent to the benefit of the entire ecosystem no matter what type of ecosystem exists anywhere on the planet. Here's the link below. Also take note of the citations and websites he links to. As you read the info, remeber the title. Think in terms of practical applications of developing an engineered landscape which is brilliantly complex and succeeds in nature and ask yourself why mainstream science coupled with big business enterprize for the most part rejects such extraordinary processes revealed to us by other lesser respected researchers who actually get off their butts and work and observe things in the field.
Daniel Mosquin - March 6, 2010 9:00 AM
There is also another fascinating benefit to this that I touched on with my post in the "Ericaceae (rhododendrons, arbutus, etc.) Rhododendrons, heaths, arbutus, and other members of the heath family." section of this very forum. The specific thread dealt with 'Companion Plantings', which is definitely something I practiced in my own environmental restoration works and urban landscaping installations and maintenance programs. Pay close attention not so much as to what I have personally written, but more importantly to some of the scientific observations I have linked to online.
Arbutus Health Issues & Companion Planting
My question is: is chilli's spiciness correlated with the dry whether, that kills this fungi ?
Based on a limited selection of varieties, namely one (Jalapeño), I think that heat is more important than moisture for determining the amount of capsaicin in chiles, at least in a cool climate area like the Pacific Northwest. I've noticed many times that fully ripe (red) Jalapeños are hotter when harvested in late summer rather than later in the fall. Many of the late season Jalapeños have hardly any heat at all. Dry weather certainly reduces the effects of fungus diseases, but I don't lose too many fruits to fungal rot despite growing peppers until freezing weather arrives.