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item Stommel, John
item Griesbach, Robert

Submitted to: Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/25/2005
Publication Date: 8/1/2005
Citation: Stommel, J.R., Griesbach, R.J. Capsicum annuum L. 'Black Pearl'. 2005. HortScience 40:1571-1573.

Interpretive Summary: Considerable diversity exists in pepper for fruit and leaf shape, size and color, as well as plant habit. Together with diverse ripe fruit color and varying hues of green to purple and variegated foliar pigmentation, a myriad of opportunities exist to develop unique varieties for ornamental use. Ornamental peppers are often grown in pots as well as for use as bedding plants where they offer vibrant fruit and foliage colors through the summer and fall seasons. A new pepper cultivar named 'Black Pearl' has been developed by scientists at the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 'Black Pearl' was developed for ornamental use and bears distinctive black foliage and bright red upright clusters of small round fruit. 'Black Pearl' was designated an All-America Selections (AAS) Flower and Vegetable Award Winner after completion of national trials in 2004. AAS Trials were initiated in 1932 to promote new garden seed varieties with superior performance judged in impartial trials in North America. Fruit of 'Black Pearl' average 1.6 cm in diameter and are oriented upright on the plant in clusters. Immature fruit are purple in color and will mature to red. The plants have a compact upright growth habit. 'Black Pearl' is well suited for use as a bedding or pot plant. 'Black Pearl's dark foliage and showy brightly colored fruit provide an attractive ornamental display. 'Black Pearl' affords nursery growers a new crop to add to their bedding and landscape plant assortment and is an ideal choice for consumers to add interest to the summer and fall garden. Ornamental peppers have the highest per unit value of any pepper product and have become a profitable crop for greenhouse pot plant and transplant production and an innovative way for small farmers to produce a high-value alternative crop. Seed of 'Black Pearl' is available from Pan American Seed Company, 1S861 Green Road, Elburn, Illinois 60119.

Technical Abstract: The Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture announces the release of a new pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) cultivar named 'Black Pearl'. This cultivar is intended for ornamental applications. Black Pearl was selected for its distinctive black foliage, bright red upright clusters of small round fruit, and compact upright growth habit. Plants average 45 cm in diameter and 31 cm in height. Plant habit is upright and growth is fasiculate with branches ending in a fruit cluster. Leaves are lanceolate with an apiculate tip, glabrous, and glossy. Leaves are simple, entire, and symmetrical. Mature leaves average 8.2 cm in length and 3.5 cm in width. Adaxial and abaxial foliage surface is black. Flowers are self-compatible, hermaphroditic, pentamerous and hypogynous. Flowers average 2.2 cm in diameter and have purple filaments, styles and anthers. Fruits are produced in upright clusters of six to eight fruit per cluster. Immature fruits are black and mature to red in approximately 80 days. Additional fruit will continue to develop and ripen over a subsequent four- to six-week period. Fruits are round and average 1.6 cm in diameter. Fruit are pungent. When grown as bedding or pot plants, Black Pearl's black foliage and brightly colored upright-oriented clustered fruit provide a strikingly attractive ornamental display for the summer and fall garden. Black Pearl is a true-breeding F8 selection derived from an initial cross between a purple foliage selection identified from a segregating population of the variegated heirloom pepper cultivar Royal Black and an unnamed selection bearing green foliage and clusters of round red fruit. Plant Variety Protection for Black Pearl has been requested. Black Pearl was designated an All America Selections Flower and Vegetable award winner after completion of national trials in 2004.