Buena Mulata Peppers – The Purple Heirloom Cayenne

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Boy do we love a purple pepper. There are now countless purple and black chili varieties to choose from. However, one of the most striking and beautiful is the buena mulata pepper.

This cayenne-type pepper has been saved for many generations, leading back to Horace Pippin, an artist living in Pennsylvania in the early 1920s. He collected rare seeds, and is known to have traded the fish pepper, buena mulata, and golden honey varieties.

In this article, I’ll share everything you need to know about the buena mulata pepper, including its appearance, heat level, flavor, and growth habit. Let’s get started!

Buena mulata pepper on plant
Unripe buena mulata pod on plant.

About The Buena Mulata

NameBuena mulata, purple cayenne
SpeciesCapsicum annuum
Heat level (Scoville)30,000-50,000 SHUs
FlavorVegetal, slightly sweet when ripe
UsesHot sauces, colorful dried powder
LightFull sun or afternoon shade
WateringEvenly moist, good drainage
SeedsRare Seeds

Without a doubt, the most appealing trait of the buena mulata pepper is its appearance. The pods start off a pale green, almost yellow color, but quickly turn bright purple as they grow. Once they begin to ripen, the peppers turn orange, then brown, and finally a deep crimson red.

The flowers are also beautiful, with shades of light purple and white. As a C. annuum variety, the flowers produce lots of pollen, making self-fertilization easy, even with indoor plants.

Buena mulata pepper flower (purple and white color)
Buena mulata pepper flower.

The peppers grow to be long and slender, around 4 inches in length, and about 1/3 inch wide. The plants produce a relatively sparse canopy, with small, thin leaves.

Our buena mulata plants have always required support from a young age, and especially once the plants become heavier with fruits. Compared to other cayenne types, the buena mulata certainly seems a bit more delicate, and not very vigorous.

How Spicy Is The Buena Mulata Pepper? (Scoville)

Just like most cayenne types, the buena mulata is a pretty spicy pepper variety. It isn’t among the hottest in the world, but it does pack a good punch of heat.

The buena mulata pepper ranges in heat from 30,000-50,000 SHUs on the Scoville scale. This is typical for run of the mill cayenne varieties, but the buena mulata has more ornamental charm.

While its heat level is average, our yields proved to be lower than other cayennes. With this in mind, the buena mulata may not be the best choice if you are growing cayennes for large batches of sauce or powder.


Like most chiles, the buena mulata changes flavors as it ripens. So, if you pick the peppers while they are still purple (unripe), they will have a bit more of a vegetative, almost grassy flavor.

Buena mulata cayenne peppers purple
The buena mulata pepper changes to orange and finally red when ripe.

After the peppers have changed to their final red color (ripe), the flavor is more sweet and smoky. I would recommend waiting for fully ripe pods before picking for the best flavor. However, they are edible at all stages, and maybe the bright purple color is more important than a sweet flavor.

Buena Mulata Seeds and Growing

If you want your own fresh buena mulata peppers, you’ll have to grow them yourself. There are many seed sources, but we purchased ours from rare seeds.

As for growing, you can treat the buena mulata like any other C. annuum species pepper. Learn how to grow peppers from seed in our detailed article here.

I hope this article inspires you to explore the vast selection of interesting pepper varieties. The buena mulata is certainly an eye-catching variety to add to the garden, with plenty of practical uses too!

Buena Mulata pods on plant unripe

Dreaming about these bright purple beauties. The buena mulata pepper is a colorful and unique additon to the garden. #gardenvibes #gardenlife #chillvibes #colorful #relaxingvideos #prettythings #gardeningtiktok

♬ Dreamy Vibes – Ocean Bay Jazz
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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.

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  1. Here in San Diego, my Buena Mulatas were the most prolific of all my peppers, a complete color explosion. Could it be the climate that gave you a lesser yield? Thanks for the good lesson on Buena Mulatas and their ways. Your pictures were helpful I have a slew of peppers whose tags faded to nothing in the rain and I am trying to identify which is which and your site is best for helping me identify them. Now I am sure the Buena Mulatas are the one with the purply leaves, most photos show them with just green leaves, but yours showed some purple in the leaves as I remembered from the last crop and can see on this new one.

  2. I grew these hydroponically in the Northwest Territories of Canada during the worst fire season on record. Turns out, they are in to that kind of thing. I have so many peppers from these plants! This is my first season growing in the territories so we’ll see if I get as much of a bumper crop next year.

  3. I’m growing some right now hydroponically. No peppers or flowers yet, but the leaf veins and stems are a nice purple color. I planted three varieties of peppers at a time and these took off really quickly. The other two varieties have some catching up to do!

  4. Great article on Buena Mulata Peppers. Grew them from seeds for the first time in containers. One container has over 30 peppers with the help of your advise. Thanks.

  5. I grew these last year, but like many of my plants that year, I didn’t get many fully ripe peppers before it got cold (I’m in Zone 5). The purple color is very striking and I made a fresh sauce with them to see what the color would be but it ended up more mauve and wasn’t very flavorful. I likely wouldn’t grow them again but it was neat to watch them develop.

    1. @Mike Edwards, I’ve learned that, apparently, stressing the plant out when cold season is coming can help the plant hurry up and ripen its pods. I had quite a few unripe last year as well (I’m in Canada…) so I’m looking forward to trying this out.
      You jap at the roots, rip off leaves, stuff like that, lol. It puts it into survival mode and it wants to make the seeds viable, which ripens the fruit.

      1. Sure – I’ve seen this behavior in a number of ways, often when it gets cold. However, in my experience it comes at the expense of flavor, but I haven’t tried the methods you’re suggesting. Let us know how it works!

    2. @Mike Edwards, I know this is a little old, but I found the flavor much improved once the peppers turned bright red.

  6. Thank you for this article! I ordered some of these seeds from a local Canadian seed purveyor.

    Thanks as well for your content in general. It’s my first season growing indoors and your articles and videos inspired me to try for myself and also to troubleshoot what I was doing wrong.

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