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Our Best Pepper Growing Guide: Growing Perfect Peppers ►

Black Panther Pepper – The Black Ghost

In the world of unique chili peppers, there is not much more exciting than a black pepper. The pimenta da neyde pepper is the land variety that started it all, introducing high levels of anthocyanins into the Capsicum chinense species.

The rare neyde pepper was discovered in Brazil, and is said to be a natural cross between a C. annuum and C. chinense. The plants are a deep purple, almost black color, with pods staying dark through ripening.

So what happens when you cross the pimenta da neyde with the infamous ghost pepper (bhut jolokia)? You get the Black Panther pepper.

Black Panther Peppers
Black panther orange peppers (partially ripe on left, fully ripe on right).

These peppers are viciously spicy, like the ghost pepper, but have visual characteristics of the neyde pepper. This makes for a truly gorgeous plant and fruits.

Black Panther Pepper Facts

  • Diameter: 0.75″
  • Length: 2-3″
  • Scoville (heat): 1,100,000+ SHUs
  • Color: Black to red, orange
  • Species: C. chinense
  • Seed to Harvest: 180+ days
  • Seeds: Bohica Pepper Hut

When two pepper varieties are cross pollinated, the resulting plants are extremely unstable. Crosses between ghost and neyde plants have resulted in many different phenotypes, but the black panther pepper has been stabilized over many generations.

Learn more about properly cross breeding peppers here.

Plant Characteristics – Why is it so Dark?

The black panther pepper plant has extremely dark foliage, with leaves almost jet black when exposed to full sunlight. This phenomenon is caused by high levels of anthocyanins, also called purple pigments.

High levels of anthocyanins are found in blueberries, grapes and currants. They are known to be powerful antimicrobial compounds, as well as powerful antioxidants.

However, the most important characteristic of these compounds (to us) is the beautiful coloration they cause. Anthocyanins are activated by light, so leaves and fruits that are not exposed to direct light will not turn purple at all.

The black panther pepper fruits also contain anthocyanins, hence their deep, almost black color when unripe. When the peppers finally ripen, they turn to a deep red (or orange) color, depending on the exact variety.

Black Panther Pepper Scoville

Since the black panther pepper is a cross between a ghost pepper and another variety, the peppers are very spicy. In fact, out of all the plants we grew in 2020, the black panther had some of the most unforgiving heat!

In short, the black panther pepper comes in around 1,100,000+ SHUs on the Scoville Scale. This puts it on par with the original bhut jolokia from which it was bred.

Black Panther Orange peppers on plant
Ripening black panther orange pods.

When we grow hot peppers, we always taste each variety for flavor and heat. I was not expecting this pepper to burn as much as it did, so I bit into it casually.

For about 30 minutes after tasting the black panther pepper, my mouth was on a fiery roller coaster ride. It peaked within about 5 minutes, but continued to burn, especially in the mouth and on the lips.

I have eaten moruga scorpions, reapers and mustard habaneros, but none burned as fiercely as our black panther orange peppers. Truly impressive heat from these gorgeous pods.

Black Panther Pepper Flavor

While we didn’t get many peppers from our black panther orange plant, we did get to experience the flavor. For the few seconds before the intense heat kicked in, I was surprised and delighted by the taste.

It tastes similar to a ghost pepper, with a slightly fruity flavor and a mild potpourri floweriness. Overall, the pods are pleasant in taste, but would best be diluted with other ingredients in a sauce or a salsa to bring the heat to a reasonable level.

Black Panther Pepper Plants

If you love heat, the black panther chili will not disappoint! However, the plants are not nearly as productive as many other ghost varieties (at least in our experience).

Plant Size

Our plant reached a mature size of around 2.5′ (75cm) in height. The foliage was relatively thin, with very few flowers and fruits setting. The stem was about 3/4″ thick at the base.

Mature black panther pepper plant (deep foliage color on right side).

When compared to other C. chinense plants in our garden, this plant was tiny. Some of our largest superhots, like the Jay’s peach ghost scorpion, reached a height of around 5′ (1.5m).


From our in-ground plant, we only harvested a handful of peppers (around 10 pods total). The plants may have been stressed from transplanting, and took a long time to recover after moving outdoors.

By comparison, a nearby C. annuum “purrira” pepper plant produced almost 1lb of fresh pods.

Black Panther Orange Pepper
Squat black panther orange pepper.

With such low yields, black panther peppers may be better suited as an ornamental pepper plant. However, we fully intend to continue growing them each year for their gorgeous foliage and fascinating ripening stages!

Time to Harvest

We harvested our first black panther peppers exactly 180 days after the seeds were originally sown (Feb 8 – Aug 5). The plant continued to produce fruits through September until the cold set in.

Overall, growing black panther peppers is a slow process, but the reward is a beautiful, completely unique pepper that you’ll never find in a store.

Other Black Pepper Varieties

The black panther is just one example of the various results from cross breeding C. chinense varieties with the pimenta da neyde. There are multiple phenotypes resulting from the same cross, including the Pink Tiger.

Pimenta da Neyde – Seeds

The pimenta da neyde pepper is one of the parents of the black panther pepper. This land variety was discovered in Brazil and carries the “purple genes” that bring the dark foliage and fruits to so many C. chinense pepper varieties today.

Pink Tiger – Seeds

Perhaps more popular than the black panther is the pink tiger pepper. These unique pods have more of a soft pinkish purple hue. They are also a result of crossing the pimenta da neyde with the bhut jolokia.

Black Panther Orange – Seeds

The original black panther ripens to red, but the orange variant ripens to, you guessed it, orange! We were lucky enough to save seeds from the orange variety, hence why all our pictures include the black panther orange. They’re beautiful!

Read Next:

To stay up to date on the most recent pepper crosses, check out the amazing Facebook group Phenos & Crosses. There are hundreds of amateur pepper breeders sharing their work with Pepper Geeks across the world.

Calvin Thumbnail


One of the original Pepper Geeks! When Calvin isn’t gardening or learning more about peppers and botany, he might be traveling new places or playing some music.


Wednesday 28th of December 2022

Are you going to grow any pepper x peppers?


Thursday 29th of December 2022

If only they existed...😆


Tuesday 15th of March 2022

I'm not quite sure why this variety is so interesting to me, the orange one in particular, but it is. Which is a bummer seeing as I couldn't find any german seed suppliers stocking it. Usually there are very few kinds of pepper they don't have but I've not been able to find either Black Panther variety.


Saturday 19th of March 2022

@peppergeek, mainly the time it takes to arrive and I am not 100 percent sure about import limitations. For this season it's fine either way, since I already have quite a selection set up, but thank you anyway.


Thursday 17th of March 2022

Is there an issue with ordering from another country? There are some suppliers that ship globally (chilli-seedz has them I believe)


Saturday 16th of October 2021

I'm just getting into the world of hot peppers. The usual hot peppers jalapenos, and habaneros are tasty with a little heat . I'm very interested in the black panther, ghost, and reaper . Where can I get the seeds from them ?


Saturday 16th of October 2021

I'm just beginning to get into the world of hot peppers . Where can I get black panther , ghost pepper and reaper pepper seeds.


Sunday 17th of October 2021

Try some of our favorite seed suppliers: