Pepper plants are said to have a distinct gender. In fact, they are neither male nor female.
Bell peppers are a type of vegetable that comes in a variety of colors and shapes. With its crunchy consistency and aromatic taste, it is perfect in refreshing summer salads. But peppers are also really delicious when cooked and go well with rice dishes, for example. In addition, the vegetable is extremely healthy: just 25 grams of red peppers cover the daily requirement of vitamin C. In addition, the pods contain important minerals such as potassium, folate, magnesium and zinc. However, there is a common misconception about the vegetable: there is a rumor circulating on the net that peppers have a gender. But that's not true.
What gender are peppers?
In various Internet videos it is claimed that the number of bulges provides information about the sex of the peppers. A female pod has four bulges on the underside, while a male has only three bumps. In addition, female peppers would taste sweeter and contain more seeds. So, according to this theory, the appearance of the pod reveals both the sex and the taste of the fruit.
In fact, these claims are not true. Peppers are neither female nor male, the dpa fact check reveals. Instead, the plant has hermaphroditic flowers, that is, it has both male and female sexual characteristics. This type of flower is also called "monoecious". The male components of a pepper flower are the stamens that produce the pollen, while the female characteristics consist of the ovary and the eggs it contains.
From this it can be seen that peppers cannot have a clear sex at all. Accordingly, the aspect of how many bulges the pod has on the underside is irrelevant. By the way: Other vegetables such as tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers and corn are also hermaphroditic.
The appearance of the peppers does not provide any information about their sex. © Wirestock/Imago
How does fertilization take place in pepper plants?
Since both reproductive organs are contained in the flower, the pepper plant can fertilize itself. The pollen is transferred from the stamens to the stigma of the female flowers. The scar is the uppermost part of the ovary and contains the eggs. The pollen tube grows through the stigma and reaches the ovarian apparatus in the ovary. There, fertilization takes place by fusing the male gametes with the female eggs. After successful fertilization, the ovary begins to develop and turns into a bell pepper. The fertilized flower falls off, and the developing fruit grows.
Pollination by bees and bumblebees is still possible, but the pepper plant is not necessarily dependent on it. Nevertheless, cross-pollination is useful because it can help the plant produce more fruit. In addition, the type of pollination affects the number of seeds in the pepper fruit. For example, if the plant is fertilized by bumblebees, the fruit will later have more seeds and a higher fruit mass.
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These factors affect the taste of the bell pepper fruit
So neither the gender nor the number of bulges have any effect on the taste. What actually influences the aroma? "The taste depends on the acidity and sugar content," says gardener and vegetable growing researcher Dietmar Schwarz to the German Press Agency. The degree of ripeness and cultivation conditions would also play a central role. From the outside, it is difficult to see what the peppers taste like. Depending on the variety, however, the fruit has different flavor profiles. Some varieties are sweeter and have a mild flavor, while others may be sharper or spicier. What do you prefer to eat with peppers: stuffed peppers – with minced meat or vegetarian, depending on your preference – or rather sliced peppers with peppers? Pickled, grilled red peppers are also good for quick cooking: this paprika feta omelette is healthy, tasty and ready in just 15 minutes.
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Green peppers taste rather tart because they are not fully ripe. During the ripening process, the bitter substances contained are transformed and the sugar content increases. Yellow and red peppers therefore taste much sweeter and have more aroma. They also contain a higher percentage of vitamin C and antioxidants compared to green pods. The latter protect the cells from free radicals and thus prevent cancer. Phytochemicals such as carotenoids, on the other hand, have a positive effect on our eyesight. All in all, there are plenty of good reasons to eat peppers regularly. By the way: Cutting peppers can be quite annoying because of the many small seeds. But with a simple method, you can easily cut and core peppers.