They are called bird peppers because birds love to eat the fruit. Despite their small size, these chiles are really, really hot! Should you find a plant, try one of the chiles. It is an experience you will truly remember. Bird pepper is the only true pepper native to Florida. It is thought to be the wild progenitor of the common culinary pepper, Capsicum annuum, which includes bell, cayenne and jalapeño. The fruit is edible to humans, but be warned — it is hot! On the Scoville scale, it typically measures between 50,000 and 100,000 units, but some have been documented at over 1,000,000 units. That’s hotter than a habanero! Now that we are very aware the ripened fruit is hot! More about this adorable plant.
Bird pepper is a nice evergreen shrub found primarily in coastal hammocks in South and Central Florida. The plant’s dainty flowers bloom year-round and attract mostly bees. With the plant blooming year-round you have constant white, green and red color on this plant providing additional interest in your landscape and interest from birds. After bloom there is a green berry and then the berries turn red when it is ripe.
It is an annual or short-lived perennial that likes moderately moist to dry, well-drained sandy soil, clay or calcareous soils. It does well in full sun to partial shade exposure and grows to about 3' +/- tall. It is drought tolerant and generally pest free. It can survive cold temperatures, but does not do well with frost or freezing temperatures.