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Brazilian Starfish Peppers – Beautiful and Sweet Ají

There is a rich diversity of pepper varieties. Sweet, spicy, large, small, wrinkly, smooth, the list of traits seems endless! Among the most beautiful is the Brazilian Starfish pepper.

These peppers almost look like candy, and are an absolute joy to grow in the garden. If you’re looking for something special to add to your home garden, this could be just the plant.

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Ripe Brazilian Starfish Pepper
Ripe Brazilian Starfish pepper on plant.

About the Brazilian Starfish Pepper

Hailing from the Capsicum baccatum species, the Brazilian Starfish plant boasts an impressive size with high yields. The variety comes from, you guessed it, Brazil. This makes them hard to find in North America, but are more common in South America.

Brazilian Starfish seeds: Etsy or Rareseeds

The red starfish-shaped pods are between 1″-1.75″ in diameter, and just 0.5-0.75″ thick. This medium to small size leads to higher yields, with individual plants producing dozens of ripe pods each season. One of our in-ground plants produced about 50 peppers here in New England.

Harvest of Brazilian Starfish peppers.

As is the case with all baccatum plants, the flowers are white with yellowish spots on the corolla. If you’re looking to branch out away from the jalapenos and bell peppers, this with surely bring some unique characteristics to your garden.

Brazilian Starfish Yellow

As far as I know, there is just one other Brazilian Starfish pepper type, the Brazilian Starfish Yellow pepper. It has a similar appearance, only yellow in color.

Ripe Yellow Brazilian Starfish pepper
Brazilian Starfish Yellow pepper.

The pale yellow pods from this plant were more tricky to know when to pick, as the pale yellow color would change slowly. The peppers seemed to be slightly thicker, with a similar diameter. They also tasted a bit less spicy.

Get seeds for the yellow type here.


Brazilian Starfish Scoville Scale (Heat)

The Brazilian Starfish is a spicy pepper, but definitely not too intimidating. The heat is medium, and is concentrated in the pepper’s placenta (the spongey membrane that holds the seeds).

Simply put, the Brazilian Starfish pepper has a Scoville between 15,000-20,000 SHUs. This places it around the same level as a serrano pepper for spiciness.

Most baccatum species peppers do not have intense heat (like those in the chinense species). This makes starfish peppers highly useful in the kitchen. They won’t overpower your dinner like a ghost pepper might.


Brazilian Starfish Pepper Flavor

When it comes to flavor, the Brazilian Starfish is familiar. In my opinion, the starfish tastes similar to a red bell pepper, but with a touch of smokey heat. Above anything, they are sweet and fruity.

The pepper walls are thicker than most peppers of this size, making them very crunchy and satisfying. The red color also means high nutrient content, as the red pigment in peppers comes from beta carotene (Vitamin A).

If you’re looking for ways to use your starfish peppers, try chopping and cooking them with fried rice, chili, soup, salsa, or pickled. They are also excellent when dried for powder.


Grow Brazilian Starfish Peppers

If you want to get your hands on some of these special peppers, you probably need to grow them yourself. Thankfully, this isn’t too difficult – Learn how to grow peppers from seed here.

Brazilian Starfish pod on plant
Brazilian Starfish pepper ripe.

Baccatum species peppers generally have one drawback – they have a longer growing period. This means that starting indoors from seed is required for many climates.

The plant size can range from 2 feet to over 6 feet tall depending on your season’s length and the soil condition. Ideal conditions are partially shaded (morning sun with afternoon shade), 70-80°F (21-27°C) with well-draining soil.

For all peppers, we recommend amending with an all purpose fertilizer early in the season to promote leafy growth. Then, around mid season, cut back nitrogen to allow the plant to fruit.

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The Brazilian Starfish may just be the perfect pepper to get you interested in growing more rare varieties. Instead of growing serranos, maybe try these next year!

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Calvin

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.

David Niemi

Monday 4th of October 2021

I've been growing Brazilian Starfish Red for 2 years, and have one 8' tall this year. I think "Brazilian Starship" would have been a better name...

Bob

Sunday 3rd of October 2021

Nice looking plants. What do you guys use when aphids take over? I have tried , I think everything. Any ideas? What type of soil blend are you using for your potted plants? I will definitely try to keep my pepper plants for years as my growing season is so short.

peppergeek

Monday 4th of October 2021

Aphids are tricky, we mostly use a hose to spray them off when there is an infestation. There are also natural predators that you can introduce to your garden or attract with companion plants (mostly flowers). Try planting alyssum, yarrow, dill etc. You can get bugs here: https://greenmethods.com/product/chrysoperla-rufilabris-5/

Mike

Sunday 3rd of October 2021

I love growing these! One of my favorite peppers to grow and I just picked up some yellow and orange seeds from the Hippy Seed Company over in Australia - very friendly couple, Neil and Charlotte and they have some very unique types of pepper seeds which is like being a kid in a candy store!