Plant This: Aye, matey, ‘Black Pearl’ pepper is a real treasure


Fellow buccaneers, ‘Black Pearl’ ornamental pepper (Capsicum annuum ‘Black Pearl’) is not a phantom of the garden, dark and mysterious though her leaves be. Nay, she’s a rare treasure worth many pieces of eight—which needs must be paid every year, as she be not winter hardy.


Beautiful ebon leaves soak up the sun, and lustrous, round peppers, as black as the depths of Davy Jones’s locker, appear after the fading of small, lilac flowers.


These black pearls mature to a blood red with no need of cutlass or dagger.


Jack Sparrow, not to mention the mockingbird, jay, and grackle, tends to ignore the ‘Black Pearl’ in my garden, although birds be unaffected by the spiciness we humans savor. The peppers, legends say, be edible but searingly hot to human tongues. So if you plan to taste them, you’d better beware, savvy?

Yo ho yo ho, a pirate’s life for me, and I be sailing the ‘Black Pearl’ ’til world’s end. Arr!

Note: My Plant This posts are written primarily for gardeners in central Texas. The plants I recommend are ones I’ve grown myself and have direct experience with. I wish I could provide more information about how these plants might perform in other parts of the country, but gardening knowledge is local. Consider checking your local online gardening forums to see if a particular plant might work in your region.

All material © 2006-2010 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

23 Responses

  1. That plant also does really well here, and I love it, although I forgot to plant it this year. I like the small flowers because they are so pretty against the foliage.~~Dee

  2. Brooke says:

    Your unique plants are just fantastic,
    as is your garden,
    thank you for sharing it with us.
    ~Brooke
    http://creativecountrymom.blogspot.com/
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/WebGarden/261885457648?ref=ts

  3. Rachael says:

    Looks like fun… might have to try it. Huckleberries are a bust though, the jam isn’t even all taht good. Too bad, ’cause the plants are so easy (I planted seeds… that’s it) and they are prolific. I’m all about finding that balance: easy and we like it.

  4. That one is difficult to find because it’s so popular! The color is fantastic!

    I have ‘Masquerade’ with lime foliage and purple peppers (planted with orange blooming perennials).

  5. Carri says:

    Dang- I started some of these from seed this year and they are still only 6 inches tall :( At least I get to enjoy photos of yours!

  6. cat says:

    oh dear…i think another plant will have to find it’s way to our garden now!!!

  7. Lilian says:

    Gorgeous color! Where can I buy the plants in the Austin area?

    I’ve seen them at Natural Gardener, Barton Springs Nursery, and Lowe’s in recent weeks, Lilian. But call first to be sure. —Pam

  8. Jayne says:

    Wow I’ve never seen those before. That first photo is strikingly beautiful!

  9. I’ve seen that in person and have to admit it is stunning. At the same time it almost seems fake; can’t believe something is actually that close to black.

  10. Meredith says:

    Arrrrgh, that be a plant I must consider having. Great post, matey!

  11. Jean says:

    I’ve tasted them before and although they may be hot (well, maybe not to a Texan), they’re not really very tasty. I have one as well but my pearls don’t look as lovely as yours!

  12. Surreal and beautiful! I agree with Linda – it’s so dark and shiny, it looks almost fake.

  13. Sheila says:

    That is really cool!

  14. Lola says:

    Wow, what a wonderful post. Love it. Will now see where I can obtain this beauty. Don’t like the hot stuff tho.

  15. Les says:

    I tasted one once, but doubt I’ll do it again, content to enjoy them with eyes only. That first photo makes them look like they are made of metal.

  16. That thar’s a real treasure. I wonder if it would survive over the winter inside as a houseplant?

  17. ESP says:

    What a great post!
    Loved it…the Pirate black pearls…what a bounty! And what great photographs Pam, you really are quite savvy!
    Watch out for Jack Sparrow, you know he will raid this bounty, now that you have posted!
    ESP.

  18. Layanee says:

    Those pearls are quite lustrous. Pearls for the garden for sure. Great photos and congrats on the mag. picture. It is a beauty.

  19. I have overwintered these in the greenhouse for two years. Last year the heater run out of gas and the temperature dropped down into the upper 20s. The plants lost their leaves but began budding out again soon after. I think I will try setting one out in the garden and see how it does after the winter.

  20. Gail says:

    The Black pearl is almost unreal looking! Loved the post and can’t believe I forgot to get this beauty when i saw it earlier this spring. gail

  21. Mamaholt says:

    ARG!!! It looks fake, it’s SO beautiful! Me wants one.

  22. chuck b. says:

    Wow, those peppers look like polished metal beads.

  23. […] the ripening red berries of ‘Black Pearl’ ornamental pepper. (For images of ‘Black Pearl’ berries in their more dramatic, blacker phase, click here.) All three do well in part […]

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