Difference Between Pepper and Capsicum

Pepper vs Capsicum

Pepper and capsicum are vegetables that are eaten all over the world for their distinct taste and aroma. It was Columbus who can be credited with labeling capsicum vegetables as peppers because of their hot and peppery taste. Capsicum belongs to nightshade family while black pepper belongs to the family called piper nigrum. There are hundreds of varieties of capsicum, and while it is sweet pepper for the people in North America, it is called bell pepper because of its typical bell shape in Italy and Turkey. This article takes a close look at the terms pepper and capsicum to find if there are any differences between them or not.


Capsicum is both a vegetable as well as a spice. It is also the name of the flowering plant that belongs to the genus capsicum and family Solanaceae. This family is also called nightshade family and includes potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplants. Capsicum is today grown in most parts of the world though it is native to the continent of America. The fruit of capsicum is found in different colors and shapes depending upon the climate and soil of the place. Those varieties that are peppery or hot in taste are referred to as chillies or chili peppers while varieties that are milder in taste and larger in size are referred to as bell pepper or red and green pepper, especially in the continent of North America. It is in England that the large varieties are referred to as simply peppers. The name capsicum is used to refer to these vegetables in commonwealth countries like India, Australia, and New Zealand. The name pepper for capsicum is used mainly because of the hot and peppery taste of the fruit.

The characteristic feature of capsicum fruits is the presence of a chemical called capsaicin that has a pungent smell and a strong taste. It causes a burning sensation in the mouth, and this is the reason why the fruit is avoided by all mammals. Birds are attracted by the rich colors of these fruits, and they remain affected by this chemical.


The different fruits that belong to the annum Capsicum and called differently as sweet peppers, peppers, or bell peppers are all collectively known as peppers. Do not confuse these vegetables with black pepper or the spice that is used in many recipes for its hot taste. Green peppers turn yellow and later red. Green peppers are harvested before ripening, and this is the reason why they are the least expensive of the three varieties. Green peppers become red in the last stage. It is at this stage that these peppers contain beta carotene almost 11 times than green peppers. Even in terms of vitamins, red peppers score heavily against green peppers.

Pepper vs Capsicum

• Capsicum and pepper are names of the same fruit of the flowering plant belonging to the nightshade family.

• It was Columbus who erroneously labeled the fruit of capsicum as pepper because of its hot and peppery taste.

• While it is called Capsicum in India, Australia, and New Zealand, it is referred to as sweet pepper, red pepper, or simply pepper in America.

• Capsicum is the generic word that is used for flowering plants in the Solanaceae family.