Jefferson was sent seeds of this pretty dwarf pepper by Samuel Brown from San Antonio, Texas, in 1812 and 1813. Brown stated how the dried peppers were as "essential to my health as salt itself." Jefferson, hopeful this species might be hardier than others, sowed the seed in pots and in square XII of the Monticello vegetable garden. He also forwarded seeds to Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon, who played a key role in spreading this plant around the U.S.
Native to southwest Texas, Mexico, and Central America, Texas Bird Pepper is a lush, compact plant (one foot high) covered in early fall with tiny, quarter-inch, red-orange peppers. Samuel Brown said, "The Spaniards use it in fine Powder & seldom eat anything without it. The Americans . . . make a pickle of the green Pods with Salt & Vinegar which they use with Lettuce, Rice, Fish, etc."
Zone 1, Zone 2, Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5, Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9, Zone 10
Location at Monticello:
August 24, 2002 to September 27, 2002July 25, 2003 to August 14, 2003August 13, 2004 to September 29, 2004June 10, 2005 to October 25, 2005August 1, 2006 to October 27, 2006July 6, 2007 to September 7, 2007July 25, 2008 to August 29, 2008June 25, 2009 to October 6, 2009August 14, 2013 to September 28, 2013