The cayenne pepper—also known as the Guinea spice, Cow Horn Pepper, aleva or bird pepper or, especially in its powdered form, red pepper—is a hot, red chili pepper used to flavor dishes and for medicinal purposes. Named for the city of Cayenne in French Guiana, it is a cultivar of Capsicum annuum related to bell peppers, jalapeños, and others. The Capsicum genus is in the nightshade family (Solanaceae).
The fruits are generally dried and ground, or pulped and baked into cakes, which are then ground and sifted to make the powdered spice of the same name.
Cayenne is used in cooking spicy dishes, as a powder or in its whole form (such as in Sichuan cuisine) or in a thin, vinegar-based sauce. It is generally rated at 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville Units. It is also used as an herbal supplement, and was mentioned by Nicholas Culpeper in his 17th century book Complete Herbal.
Most cultivated varieties of cayenne, capsicum annuum, can be grown in a variety of locations and need approximately 100 days to mature. Peppers prefer warm, moist, nutrient-rich soil in a warm climate. The plants grow to about 2–4 feet (0.6–1 metre) of height and should be spaced 3 ft (1 metre) apart.
Chilis are mostly perennial in sub-tropical and tropical regions; however, they are usually grown as annuals in temperate climates. They can be overwintered if protected from frost, and require some pruning.
Cayenne pepper is high in vitamin A. It also contains vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin C, riboflavin, potassium and manganese. 
Cayenne is a popular spice in a variety of cuisines. It is employed variously in its fresh form, dried and powdered, and as dried flakes. It is also a key ingredient in a variety of hot sauces, particularly those employing vinegar as a preservative.
Full article ▸