One of my long-standing fascinations around the chilli is the way it can often – together with other edible plants – be found in urban gardening in East Asia.

Lijiang provided a curious case of that.

I found some examples of such “guerrilla gardening” here, in the middle of the romantic old town, overrun by tourists as it is.

In small pots, next to ornamental flower planters, but also on the edge of some of the open water channels flowing through the old town and in a gap between houses – there were vegetables, and especially chilli.

One only had to notice it!

Of course, this “vegetable growing” is not just about growing food – for which China would still have more room in other places (and for which there would be little practical reason).

It plays more of a role, probably, that chilli are pretty plants – or become pretty, in particular, once their pods ripen.

Interestingly, even in China an argument for the early spread of chilli has been that it was first popular as an ornamental.