When it comes to obscure and interesting pepper varieties, many originate from the pimenta da neyde. This dark purple, almost black pepper variety has an enigmatic origin story, but we do know some things.
So, in this article, I’ll share everything I know about the pimenta da neyde pepper, including its origin, plant characteristics, appearance, flavor, and heat.
Pimenta da Neyde Origin
It is widely accepted that the pimenta da neyde was discovered in Brazil by a woman named Neyde Hidalgo (Hidalgo da Neyde). It is believed to be an accidental cross between a Capsicum annuum variety and a C. chinense variety.
As a result, the plants are tall and sturdy like many annuum types, but have a habanero-like flavor and aroma. Fruits are 2-3 inches long by about a half inch wide.
Pimenta da Neyde Pepper Appearance
Pimenta da neyde plants produce oblong fruits that are a deep purple, almost black color. Unlike virtually all other pepper varieties, the peppers do not noticeably change color when ripe.
The only way to know a pepper is ripe is to observe the inside, where the placenta will be either green (unripe) or purple (ripe). This makes harvesting the peppers tricky, as ripe fruits taste better.
Why are they so dark? The dark color of the leaves and peppers is thanks to high anthocyanin levels. This compound is known as the ‘purple pigment,’ and is activated by sunlight. The parts of the plant that are shaded are not nearly as dark as those in direct sunlight.
The same goes for the fruits, with shaded fruits having a lighter purple color. As a result, the plant puts on a beautiful show throughout the season, making it a great ornamental variety. It has also been a common plant in the world of crossbreeding with other superhot peppers, resulting in a wide range of new hybrids.
Pimenta da Neyde Pepper Scoville
Pimenta da neyde peppers are spicy! They look somewhat tame with their smooth skin, but they pack a respectable punch.
In short, the pimenta da neyde comes in between 150,000-250,000 SHUs on the Scoville scale. This places is right around habanero heat, which is quite significant.
Pimenta da Neyde Flavor
If you want to grow the best tasting hot pepper, the pimenta da neyde is likely not the right choice. While the flavor is okay, it is certainly not a favorite.
The taste is slightly bitter with floral notes, similar to a habanero. This doesn’t work well in many culinary situations, but the color alone may be useful in cooking. The fresh peppers bleed when cut open, staining food with gorgeous, vibrant purples.
Growing Pimenta da Neyde Peppers
Growing the pimenta da neyde is exciting from the moment the seedlings sprout. The dark, purple and green foliage is gorgeous, even on the cotyledons.
Also, growing this variety is easy. If you’ve grown jalapenos, you’ll have no trouble with growing pimenta da neyde. The variety has both Capsicum chinense and annuum genetics, making for a tall, sturdy plant with large yields.
I also noticed that this plant seemed to be disease resistant. Other nearby plants dealt with fungal issues while the neyde (and other dark foliage varieties) had no problems at all.
The only issue we did have was with deer chomping off branches. However, this was likely due to the plant being located on the edge of the garden, near a wooded area.
Pimenta da Neyde Crosses (Hybrid Varieties)
Dark foliage is unique and exciting for pepper growers, so it is no surprise that the pimenta da neyde has been crossbred with countless other varieties. The result is a plethora of interesting, dark foliage C. chinense pepper varieties. Here are a few we have grown and loved.
Ever heard of the Carolina reaper? Well, the purple reaper is the dark foliage variant, undoubtedly sharing some genetics with the pimenta da neyde. The plant is huge, prolific, and vigorous, producing several dozen super spicy reaper-shaped purple peppers!
The black panther pepper was originally a cross between the pimenta da neyde and the bhut jolokia. The result is a superhot pepper that resembles the gnarly ghost pepper, but has dark foliage and dark unripe fruits. Watching the peppers ripen from purple to orange or red is a marvel!
The peachgum tiger is a newer variety that is a cross of a cross. If you go back far enough, the genetics lead back to the pimenta da neyde, giving the plants their purple foliage and dark unripe fruit color.
The pimenta da neyde was a turning for the pepper community, helping to bring some of the most notable and beautiful varieties into existence. I hope this article inspired you to grow some new pepper varieties. Cheers to Hidalgo da Neyde!