Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 16, 2008
Publication Date: June 1, 2008
Citation: Stommel, J.R., Griesbach, R.J. 2008. Capsicum Annuum L. Midnight Creeper and Solar Eclipse. HortScience. 43:939-942. Interpretive Summary: Once a novelty, dark purple to black foliaged garden plants are now standard elements to consider in garden design. However, many of the available species have limited season interest and lack wide geographic adaptability. In order to address these limitations, two new pepper cultivars named Midnight Creeper and Solar Eclipse have been developed by scientists at the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. Midnight Creeper’s low spreading growth habit, black foliage, and small red upright round fruit is attractive in mass plantings as a dense groundcover. Solar Eclipse’s tall upright habit and black foliage provide a novel focal point in garden designs. Fruit (peppers) are not a prominent feature of Solar Eclipse since very few flowers and fruit are produced. Ornamental peppers have the highest per unit value of any pepper product and have become a profitable alternative crop. Midnight Creeper and Solar Eclipse give nursery growers a new crop to add to their bedding and landscape plant assortment and are an ideal choice for consumers to add interest to the summer and fall garden. Midnight Creeper and Solar Eclipse are available from McCorkle Nurseries, 4904 Luckey’s Bridge Road, Dearing, Georgia 30808.
Technical Abstract: The USDA, ARS announces the release of two new pepper cultivars 06C84 (trademarked as Midnight Creeper) and 07C114-1 (trademarked as Solar Eclipse). Midnight Creeper and Solar Eclipse are intended for ornamental applications. Midnight Creeper’s prostrate spreading indeterminate growth habit, black foliage, and brightly colored erect fruit is attractive in mass plantings as a dense groundcover; while Solar Eclipse’s tall upright indeterminate habit and black foliage provide a novel foundation for garden designs. These cultivars are best used as bedding plants where maximum plant vigor is attained. Midnight Creeper is distinguished by a prostrate indeterminate growth habit. Plants average 98 cm in diameter and 39 cm in height. Mature leaves average 4.5 cm in length and 2.4 cm in width. Immature fruit are black and mature to red. Fruit are globe shaped, have 2 to 3 locules, average 1.2 cm in diameter and are pungent. Midnight Creeper produces a flush of full-size black fruit in approximately 70 days from transplanting and mature red fruit in approximately 90 days. Delayed fruit maturity and indeterminate growth habit ensures season-long ornamental interest. Solar Eclipse is distinguished by an indeterminate tall upright growth habit. Plants average 92 cm in diameter and 115 cm in height. Mature leaves average 8.8 cm in length and 4.2 cm in width. Fruit are not a prominent feature of Solar Eclipse. Very few flowers and fruit are produced under summer field conditions. Attributes common to both cultivars include leaves that are glabrous, glossy and lanceolate with an apiculate tip. Leaves are simple, entire, and symmetrical. Adaxial leaf surface is black. Flowers are self-compatible, hermaphroditic, pentamerous and hypogynous. Flowers are purple and average 1.5 to 1.6 cm in diameter and have purple filaments, styles, anthers. Fruit are solitary and are borne upright. Midnight Creeper and Solar Eclipse are clonally propagated F1 and F2 selections respectively, derived from initial crosses between the USDA pepper germplasm line 90C44, breeding line 94C27 and the heirloom ‘Christmas Cheer’. Plant patent applications have been submitted for 06C84 and 07C114-1.