(Capsicum annuum; C. frutescens)
By Art Presser, PharmD - President, Huntington College of Health Sciences
Cayenne or Capsicum consists of the dried fruit of Capsicum frutescens, Capsicum annum, or a large number of hybrids of these species and varieties within the Solanaceae (Nightshade) family that are capsaicin rich. Because these plants have been cultivated for such a long time, peppers from them differ widely from one another in size, shape, and potency. They are not true peppers but were misnamed by the early Spanish explorers who confused their pungency with the pepper they were used to, namely black pepper (Piper nigrum) in the Piperaceae family.