I was just reading some of the posts in the recent "cats?" thread. The
discussion turned to hot pepper and it reminded me of something I have
been wondering about.
Plants produce fruit for only one reason, right? To attract an animal to
eat it and carry the seeds away to new locations. So why did hot peppers
evolve to be so hot? It's almost like there must be an advantage to the
plant to repel animals and keep the seeds from spreading. Well, that
can't be. Is there an animal that is attracted to the hotness? I think I
remember that birds aren't affected by hot peppers. Is that the key to
my little mystery?
Maybe it's like this - the pepper growing in a particular
location needs to spread its seed, but not too far for
risk that soil conditions will change with distance.
So, an animal comes by and bites the pepper and shakes
its head once it senses the taste - the pepper/seeds get flung
around. That's just my out-of-da-box idea... Or, maybe
it's as you say - birds don't sense it and poop the seeds here
and there. If birds are bothered, it's possible the pepper
just reproduces on a local basis without the need to spread
much. ??? botanists out there ???
"Researchers think that the reason why chiles are pungent is an
evolutionary depelopment to keep mammals from eating the chiles because
mammals digestion system destroys the seeds. Capsaicin doesn't has the
same influence on birds whose digestion system doesn't destroy the
seeds. The seeds therefore passes unhindered and the birds are
spreading the seeds widely securing the survival of the chile plants."
Chile growing with forum http://miljokemi.dk/chili
Thanks to all who gave a reply. I guess this is the most reasonable
answer to my mind.
There are many fruits that attract mammals and their seeds survive the
trip through the digestive system. Maybe pepper seeds can't survive if
eaten by a mammal and so developed this alternate plan. My first thought
was that there are so many birds that are seed eaters that they must
be able to digest seeds very well. If not, we wouldn't be attracting
many birds to our winter bird feeders.
On the other hand, when birds eat fruits such as Strawberries, I do
believe the seeds survive. I've never seen a bird eat a pepper but I
assume in their native habitat, there are birds that eat them.
I have a constant competition with the local mockingbinds (Central
Texas) over which one of us will get the fruits of the wild chile
pequins growing around my property. They (the mockingbirds) will
patiently pluck and devour dozens of ripe fruit from a plant, then fly
to the next to select their next course. FWIW they also have a great
fondness for cherry tomatoes.
Thanks. I live far too far north to have any thing in the way of peppers
growing wild. I'm also too far north for Mockingbirds to be common, if
they ever come here at all. I remember them well from when I was growing
up in Ohio.
Steve (in the Adirondacks of northern NY)
The duck-billed platypus is a dead giveaway, even more so than the
Gary Woods AKA K2AHC- PGP key on request, or at home.earthlink.net/~garygarlic
Zone 5/6 in upstate New York, 1420' elevation. NY WO G
Alls it takes is a few humans eating hot peppers and putting the see
reamins out in the compost pile or in the trash and there you have
nice spread of seeds. THen the humans also travel with the hot pepper
and when they go bad they toss them out and the seeds have a new plac
Also when the peppers go bad on the vine and drop to the ground the
can sprout and move across the land by the next crop dropping peppers
Another theory is after the peppers drop and there is a nice rain t
wash seeds to another place, that can work too!
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