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Pepper Profile: Jolokia PDF Print E-mail
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Pepper Profile: Jolokia
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The Plant

Like the Habanero, Scotch Bonnet and Red Savina™, Naga Jolokia belongs to the Capsicum chinense family. This landrace chile originated in the Northeast of India, particularly Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and neighboring Bangladesh. Other names for this chile include Nagahari, Bhut Jolokia, Bih Jolokia, Borbih, Raja Mircha, Raja Chilli, Mirch, Mircha, Naga Moresh, Naga Morich, Tezpur, and quite recently Dorset Naga.(with possible slight differences). In their home country, Bhut Jolokia and Bih Jolokia are also spelled Bhwt Jolokiya and Bih Jolokiya respectively.

For many years, there was uncertainty about this particular chile pepper, some sources even listed cayenne-type peppers as Naga Jolokia or put it into the C. frutescens species. Eventually a field trial with comprehensive analysis by the NMSU Chile Pepper Institute (CPI) shed light on this cultivar.

Both Assamese growers and the Chile Pepper Institute found top heat levels around one million Scoville Heat Units (SHU), and the Chile Pepper Institute's findings for Bhut Jolokia were even awarded the world record as the "hottest of all spices" by Guinness World Records (September 2006).

At the CPI test fields, 'Bhut Jolokia' grew to a height of 70 cm (+/- 7 cm) at maturity. In Assam, the typical height of Bih Jolokia plants is reported to range from 45 to120 cm. (1 cm = 0.4 ")

Bih Jolokia

Bih Jolokia on a Frontal Agritech field in Assam, India

Bhut Jolokia

Bhut Jolokia on a CPI test field in New Mexico, USA

Bhut & Bih Jolokia, Greenhouse

Both at the Pepperworld Test Greenhouse in Germany...

Bhut Jolokia, Outside

... and outside (lower yield and later maturity, at least in central European climate)

The stem is green, with anthocyanin (dark color pigments) present at the nodes. The leaf surface has the characteristic crinkle look as in other C. chinense varieties, leaf size is 10 to 14 cm (length) and 5.5 to 7.5 cm (width).

Also as typical for C. chinense, flowers are pendant, with creamy white corollas, often with a touch of light green. The filaments are purple, the anthers blue. As also typical for the chinense species, there's more than one flower per node. While the Assamese growers (Bih Jolokia) as well as the Chile Pepper Institute (Bhut Jolokia) report two flowers per node for their respective plants, we found clusters of up to five on the Naga Morich test plants we grew in our Pepperworld greenhouse from original "Chileman" seeds, as well as on Bhut Jolokia plants (grown from CPI seed).

Naga Morich Plant

Blossoms, flowers and tiny fruit on a Naga Morich plant.

Bhut Jolokia Flower

Bhut Jolokia flower

Depending upon the source, certain calyx differences are evident, and also in fruit shape. Growing the various peppers next season will hopefully bring more insight, so some updates in the future are possible.

The elongated fruits are 5 to 8.5 cm in length, 2.5 to 3 cm in diameter (at shoulder), with an undulating surface. We noticed that depending on the source, fruit shape also seems to differ a bit. Fruits mature from green to bright red. The CPI reported that the constriction between calyx and pedicel found in C. chinense was present on the Bhut Jolokia fruit, but the penetrance of this trait was reduced.

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