A Peck of Pretty Peppers
Stommel and Griesbach have developed pepper cultivars with a variety of different traits. One has spreading, black foliage and colorful, upright peppers with a spicy flavor. Another is exceptionally tall, growing as high as three feet. A third has black foliage and orange, pumpkin-shaped fruit.
So how do they do it? Step one, Stommel says, is to identify which traits, or characteristics, you want. Do you want the plant to be big or small? What size, color and shape do you want the leaves to be? What do you want the fruit to look like? Creating a new plant is similar to making a recipe. You might know you want to make cookies, but before you start to bake, you need to decide what kind of cookies you want to eat. Then you decide what ingredients you'll need.
Peppers are members of the Capsicum genus, which includes plant types with a lot of variety, so breeders have a lot of options when they decide what kind of pepper they want.
“Only your imagination is limiting,” Griesbach says.