There has been much research when it comes to the anatomy of chili pepper, capsaicin, how it works, how it interacts with the body, and why it’s so hot. Hot chili peppers have continued to gain popularity over the last few years as people love the spicy high they get from them. What is it about the extremely HOT peppers that we love? Maybe it’s the dopamine and endorphin rush that hurries to counteract the burn and pain from hot chili peppers. Because the burning spicy high is somewhat addictive, many have dedicated themselves to breeding and growing hotter and hotter peppers.

Over the years, selective breeding and well-controlled growing conditions have led to some top favorites like the Carolina Reaper and Scorpion chili peppers. Leading researchers have finally discovered what it is that makes super-hot peppers pack so much heat. To understand more about a pepper’s heat, we must discuss the anatomy of chili pepper and look at its key parts closely.

Parts of a Chili Pepper

The two primary parts of a pepper are the pericarpal tissue and the placenta. In most chili peppers, the placenta carries the heat. Glands in the placenta secrete capsaicin. If you observe the inside of a pepper, you’ll notice the placenta extending as ribs to the apex of the chili. The white part you see inside the pepper is the ribs. The pericarpal tissue is formed by the endocarp, exocarp, and mesocarp. These carry no heat except for an occasional bleeding of capsaicin into the pepper’s flesh. The pericarpal tissue contains capsaicin-secreting vesicles in Super-Hot breeds. These little capsaicin vesicles are the secret to the pepper’s heat.

However, it’s not the only secret to a pepper’s intense heat. If you observe the outer flesh of the Carolina Reaper chili pepper, for instance, you’ll notice how bumpy it is. Observe how it folds itself into itself and then comes down to the sting. All these bumps and pleats work to increase the surface area of the pepper. This increases the amount of capsaicin provided throughout the Reaper.

The Powerful Duo of Heat and Taste

Just because a hot pepper like the Carolina Reaper produces an incredible amount of heat doesn’t mean it doesn’t provide its own unique taste or aroma. Actually, you’ll find that even the hottest peppers provide complex taste profiles. The Ghost Pepper provides a building heat that sneaks up on you until you think it may never end, but it also has its own flavor profile. It has a sweet, earthy, fruity flavor accompanying the intense heat. The Carolina Reaper pepper still reigns as king when it comes to heat. The Reaper has yet to be unseated from its Guinness Book of World Records’ recording. But it brings more than heat to the table. The Reaper is one of the most fragrant, sweet peppers available.