Capsicum: Early Botanical Texts on Capsicum

The story of confusion about the correct botanical classification of Capsicum mirrors the history of botany itself.

So, it can be quite fascinating to check what was written – let alone, what illustrations of what kinds of chile pepper were published – through the ages. However, much of it is pretty hidden. This is an ongoing project collecting virtual, more or less freely available, texts.

Karl Anton Fingerhuth, Düsseldorpii, 1832: Monographia Generis Capsici

(from the archives of the Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, SUB, Göttingen; here, and on the SUB’s website, this monograph is available in digital format for the first time)

Jacquin, Nikolaus Joseph Freiherr von. Vindobonae, 1770-1776: Hortus botanicus vindobonensis, seu, Plantarum Rariorum, quae in Horto Botanico Vindobonensi…

For the chile pepper fiend, this work is of particular importance as the first published description and depiction of Capsicum chinense, the source of the species’ name, and of the confusion about “it’s homeland, China.”

Not only the picture and the description from this work, but also photos of the herbarium samples of C. chinense on which the description was based are published here, straight from the archives of the Natural History Museum Vienna.

Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen in naturgetreuen Abbildungen mit kurz erläuterndem Texte. 1887: Gera-Untermhaus

An early standard text on medicinal plants with a nice illustration of Capsicum annuum.

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