• Blog your pepper progress. The first image in your first post will be used to represent your Glog.

The Grove Pepper Project

I think a little history may be required so you understand why this is important to me. Florida supposedly has a few types of wild peppers. One of them is a monster of a pepper called a Calusa Indian Mound.  It is supposed to get huge. I have never seen one in the wild nor in cultivation. The state of Florida recognizes Tabasco peppers as being a wild pepper down in a couple of counties in South Florida. Again, I've never seen one in the wild. The third one is called a Grove pepper. Growing up in Central Florida in the seventies, we use see them in some of the smaller citrus groves. From my understanding, grove peppers were common throughout most of the groves in Florida. workers would snack on them while working in the hot Florida sun in the groves. As a kid, I got my introduction to hot peppers from these wild grove peppers.The peppers were hot, harsh and would make you feel cooler.
Grove Peppers are really hard to find in the wild these days. I personally think that whatever this pepper is, it thrived only in citrus groves. It's not hard to figure out why, all Grove Peppers I saw grew in partial shade. Citrus groves provided this, with the pepper getting some mid morning or mid afternoon sun as well as some high noon sun. I knew a couple of people that grew them in 5 gallon buckets or in large pots.They only did well getting just three or four hours sun in the summer. Many of the grove owners hated the peppers because they felt they robbed a lot of the fertilizer the trees were supposed to have. Once a grove pepper became established, they were hard to get rid of. They grew a big, thick, and long tap root that made them hard to pull up. Nowadays, all groves spray herbicide under their trees that ensure nothing grows under them.
I personally think the grove pepper got so common for all those years because the works would snack on the peppers and the seeds would end up where they worked, in the groves. I'm sure the birds spread them to some extent. I was told the blue jays and the scrub jays both loved to eat the peppers. Nowadays, many of the farm and grove workers still snack on hot peppers. The two biggest differences is, they have much better tasting peppers they bring with them to snack on, and any pepper plant they may come up from seed, will never get established before a worker sprays it with herbicide. Until a month ago, I had not seen a grove pepper since the late seventies or very early eighties. I figured they still existed in the wild, but how and where they existed was a mystery to me.
A month ago, I spotted what appeared to be a grove pepper in a wooded lot near my house. It was growing in undisturbed soil in a partly shaded area.  None of the peppers were ripe yet, but the plant had the right shape, height and the peppers looked right for it to be a grove pepper. I showed the picture to a few of my friends and they agreed I had probably found a grove pepper. i wanted to go dig it up and move it to my house, but i wasn't sure if the lot belonged to the person next door, and the pepper did look like it had it's lower branches removed. I wasn't sure if someone was taking care of it or if something had bitten off the lower branches. 

Once I was sure I had a real grove pepper, I went back and took a cutting. all of the branches had a few peppers on them so I could not help but get a few peppers with my cutting. I did taste one and it was how I remembered them. Hot and a little bit of a harsh taste. You won't get any fruity undertones from this one.

Peppers are easy to root from cuttings. I prepared this one and it's sitting a mix of pine bark fines, peat, and perlite. I will move it to a one gallon pot next and on to a five gallon bucket later. I have a greenhouse, so I will move it into that if it gets cold this winter.

The original pepper plant seems to be well isolated from any other peppers. I think I should have pure seed from it once some of the pods get ripe. I will collect some and share the seeds later on.
So far, my cutting is doing well and should be well rooted within a month.


Extreme Member
Very interesting thread, David!