Cayenne pepper is a small perennial shrub, reaching about 90-100 cm in height. It prefers well drained sandy soil and warm climate. Its woody stem with numerous branches covered with thick dark-green foliage. Small creamy-white flowers appear all over the bush which subsequently develop into long, slender, glossy bright green color fruits (pods). The fruits finally attain mature status when they turn deep-red color. Interiorly, each cayenne fruit features numerous tiny, flat, disk-shaped, off-white or cream colored seeds. The seeds are actually clinging on to the central white placenta.
Cayenne chilies have a strong spicy taste that comes to them from the active alkaloid compounds’ capsaicin, capsanthin, and capsorubin. The hotness of cayenne measured in “Scoville heat units” (SHU). On the Scoville scale, cayenne pepper has 30,000 to 50,000 SHU. On comparison scale, bell peppers have “zero” SHU. Cayenne contains health benefiting alkaloid compound, capsaicin which gives them a strong spicy pungent character. Early laboratory studies on experimental mammals suggest that capsaicin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties. When used judiciously it also found to reduce triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels in obese individuals.