There are about 31 species of Capsicum, but only five are regarded as cultivated. The number of recognised species changes periodically depending on which taxonomist last worked on the genus.
Typically, wild chillies have small red deciduous fruit which are full of seeds. Most of them have a high capsaicin content and very thin flesh, which makes them of limited culinary value. In some cases the seed is dificult to germinate and seems to need a stimulus which mimics the effect of passing through a bird's digestive system.
The wild species are widely distributed in South America with one, Capsicum galapagoense, endemic to the Galapogos Islands.
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