Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/10/2018
Publication Date: 3/1/2018
Citation: Stommel, J.R., Kozlov, M.A., Griesbach, R.J. 2018. Ornamental pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) cultivars comprising the Christmas Lights cultivar series. HortScience. 53:391-394.
Interpretive Summary: Considerable diversity exists in pepper for fruit and leaf shape, size and color, as well as plant habit. This diversity affords a wealth of opportunities to develop unique cultivars for multi-purpose applications. Once a novelty, ornamental peppers are now common as garden plants. However, many of the available cultivars have limited season interest and lack suitability for both pot plant and bedding plant applications. In order to address these shortcomings, a new series of four related pepper cultivars, called Christmas Lights, was developed. All four have a compact growth habit and produce small conical shaped fruit that is borne upright to ensure a showy fruit display. Depending on the cultivar, immature fruit are bright violet or pale yellow and mature fruit are red or orange. Suitability of these cultivars for bedding and pot plant production ensures utility for year-long culture. Ornamental peppers have the highest per unit value of any pepper product. These new cultivars give growers a new opportunity to add to their bedding and pot plant assortment.
Technical Abstract: The USDA, ARS announces the release of the ornamental pepper (Capsicum annuum) Christmas Lights cultivar series. The Christmas Lights series is comprised of four cultivars named Christmas Lights Blue/Red, Christmas Lights Blue/Orange, Christmas Lights Yellow/Red and Christmas Lights Yellow/Orange. These cultivars are intended for ornamental applications. The Christmas Lights series of cultivars were selected for their distinctive immature and mature fruit colors and compact growth habit. Immature fruit of Christmas Lights Blue/Red and Christmas Lights Blue/Orange are bright violet and mature to red and orange, respectively. Immature fruit of Christmas Lights Yellow/Red and Christmas Lights Yellow/Orange are creamy yellow and mature to red and orange respectively. Fruit of all four cultivars are oriented upright, solitary and conical in shape. Fruit mature in approximately 75 days. Fruit contain two to three locules and average 2.1 to 2.8 cm in height and 1.5 to 2.1 cm in diameter at the base. Average fruit pericarp thickness is 0.17 to 0.19 cm. Fruit are pungent. Plants average 41 to 56 cm in diameter and 24 to 29 cm in height. Foliage is dark green. The Christmas Lights series may be grown as bedding or pot plants. Prolific fruit set, upright fruit orientation and contrasting immature and mature fruit color among the four cultivars provides a vibrant ornamental display for the summer and fall garden and holiday season. The Christmas Lights cultivar series are true breeding selections (Christmas Lights Blue/Red, F11 generation; Christmas Lights Blue/Orange, F13 generation; Christmas Lights Yellow/Red, F11 generation; Christmas Lights Yellow/Orange, F12 generation). The pedigree is complex and originated from initial crosses between the USDA germplasm release 90C44 and the heirloom cultivars Christmas Cheer and Royal Black. Conical fruit shape and violet pigmented immature fruit color are derived from 90C44 and Royal Black. Yellow immature fruit color is derived from Christmas Cheer which bears globe shaped fruit. Green foliage color is derived from Christmas Cheer. Growth habit of Christmas Lights cultivars is intermediate to that of the upright habit of 90C44 and extremely prostrate habit of Christmas Cheer. Earliness of Christmas Lights cultivars is comparable to Christmas Cheer.