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|Red bell pepper fruit and longitudinal section|
Capsicum // (also known as peppers) is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family Solanaceae. Its species are native to the Americas, where they have been cultivated for thousands of years. Following the Columbian Exchange, it has become cultivated worldwide, and it has also become a key element in many cuisines. In addition to use as spices and food vegetables, Capsicum species have also been used as medicines and lachrymatory agents.
The generic name may come from Latin capsa 'box', presumably alluding to the pods or the Greek word κάπτω kapto 'to gulp'. The name "pepper" comes from the similarity of the flavor to black pepper, Piper nigrum, although there is no botanical relationship with it or with Sichuan pepper. The original term, chilli (now chile in Mexico) came from the Nahuatl word chīlli, denoting a larger Capsicum variety cultivated at least since 3000 BC, as evidenced by remains found in pottery from Puebla and Oaxaca.
The fruit of Capsicum plants have a variety of names depending on place and type. The piquant (spicy) varieties are commonly called chili peppers, or simply "chillies". The large, mild form is called red pepper, green pepper, or bell pepper in North America and United Kingdom and typically "capsicum" in New Zealand,Australia, Singapore and India. The fruit is called paprika in some other countries (although paprika can also refer to the powdered spice made from various capsicum fruit).
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