Text and photo by Paula Dittrick, TMNCPC blogmaster
Some people call Chile pequin the bird pepper. Various bird species eat the tiny pepper, which is spicy for humans, some of whom use it for Tex-Mex seasoning. Birds do not experience the spicy taste.
These plants spring up out of bird droppings in pastures and landscapes across South and Central Texas. Chile pequin, also called Chile petin, is originally from Mexico.
Chile pequin, capsicum annuum (C. frutescens), has grown for years in my backyard where it’s a bush about 2-3 feet tall that thrives in partial share with very little maintenance from me.
“This is our original native chile pepper,” said Sally and Andy Wasowski in their book, Native Texas Plants Landscaping by Region. “It’s a pleasant, airy understory shrub, and I’ve been seen it used effectively as tall woodsy ground cover. Given more sun and a little water, it becomes quite dense.”
The Victoria Advocate newspaper reported in a 2018 article written by Brynn Lee, a Victoria County Master Gardener, that people use chile pequins in homemade hot sauces and salsas as well as being used for a sweet jelly with a kick.
Personally, I leave mine alone for the birds who brought it to my backyard.