The flowers of chili peppers, known botanically as capsicum and members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. appear in the spring and summer, several weeks or months before the peppers are ready for harvest. There are more than a hundred varieties of chili peppers under cultivation worldwide but the flowers of the chili pepper species are rather uniform with the only possible difference being the number of petals.
Christopher Columbus was one of the first Europeans to encounter them, in the Caribbean, and called them peppers because they, like black and white pepper of the Piper genus known in Europe, have a spicy hot taste unlike other foodstuffs. Upon their introduction into Europe chilis were grown as botanical curiosities in the gardens of Spanish and Portuguese monasteries.