Anthropologists have traced the chile pequin back 7,000 years to Bolivia and Brazil. Some believe it to be the original wild pepper, the mother of all peppers. It is still found in the wild in South America, Latin America, and the southern United States, most notably south Texas. Chile pequin grows under cultivation in Texas and Mexico. Birds generously spread the seeds. Capsicum Annuum Aviculare has had many names over the centuries. The Aztecs called it Chili Tecpintl, which meant flea chili. The name morphed over the years into dozens of variations: Chiltepin, Tepin, Chili Tepin, and Chili Pequin. The Pequin may be tiny - it’s about the size of a pencil eraser - but it packs a wallop. While a Jalapeno registers between 3500 and 8000 on the Scoville heat index, the Pequin can reach as high as 250,000. That’s right up there with Scotch Bonnets, otherwise known as Habaneros. Peppers don’t get much hotter than that unless you try the legendary Bhut Jolokia, which sounds like something from the Klingon empire but is actually from India and is used in that part of the world to frighten away wild elephants!!! Common uses include pickling, salsas and sauces, soups, and vinegars. The popular Cholula brand hot sauce lists piquin peppers and arbol peppers among its ingredients.
Pequin has a compact habit growing typically 0.3 - 0.6 meters tall, with bright green, ovate leaves and small fruits that rarely exceed 2 cm in length. Like most chiles, fruits start out green, ripening to brilliant red at maturity. Pequin peppers are very hot, often 13-40 times hotter than jalapeños on the Scoville scale (100,000-250,000 units). Flavor is described as citrusy, smoky, and nutty.