Willing’s Barbados Pepper
Chiltepin peppers are listed on the Slow Food Ark of Taste.
Grow them yourself!
McMahon’s Texas Bird Pepper seed is available in Old Salem at The Garden Shop.
‘Willing’s Barbados’ Pepper
Capsicum annuun var. aviculare
Commonly known as Barberry or Pipperidge pepper, this pepper has small upright red fruits.
Around 1760, the pepper was brought from Barbados by Charles Willing to renowned botanist John Bartram in Philadelphia. Because of its attractive foliage and berries, it was typically used as an ornamental houseplant during the 18th and 19th centuries. The berries, harvested green or ripe red, had multiple culinary uses as well. The pepper was a popular Caribbean-style condiment in both Philadelphia and Charleston cooking, particularly as a seasoning for soups, sauces and stews.
The seeds were widely disseminated among early and mid-19th century gardeners in the Philadelphia and Baltimore region. Despite being cultivated in pots for many years, these peppers are still an untamed wild landrace. They are also known as Bird peppers (or Chiltepin peppers), as this type of pepper is a self-seeding type of wild hot pepper that is easily spread by birds who ingest them and are unaffected by the heat of the pepper.