Why Are My Ghost Peppers Turning Purple?

Ghost peppers, scientifically known as Bhut Jolokia, first came on the scene in 2007 by making the Guinness book of records’ “world’s hottest pepper.” The world only knew of the red ghost pepper with a Scoville rating of about 1041,427 SHU back then. Today, ghost peppers come in different colors.

Ghost peppers turn purple closer toward full ripeness. Sometimes the purple coloration is due to the pepper’s response to sunlight and temperature. Other times, purple ghost peppers are a slight variant of the usual red ghost pepper. 

Purple ghost peppers are the rarest of all species of ghost peppers and can be pretty alarming to spot them in your garden, especially when not planted on purpose. So in this article, we will go over everything you need to know about why your ghost peppers are turning purple and more!

Are Purple Ghost Peppers Normal?

Purple ghost peppers are perfectly normal and are the rarest forms of ghost peppers. There are several reasons why your ghost peppers might turn purple. Sometimes, the purple coloration is a rite of passage into maturity. Some ghost peppers turn purple from green and gradually get lighter to yield the usual red ghost pepper. 

Additionally, purple ghost peppers are variations of the typical red ghost pepper due to genetic modifications and other environmental factors like temperature, sunshine, soil factors, etc.  

Factors Affecting Ghost Pepper Coloration and Pigmentation

Ghost peppers are a hybrid form of pepper classified as the world’s hottest chili. They are noted to be the first to hit the Scoville mark for super hot chilis. Interestingly, Several factors affect the pigmentation of ghost peppers. 

Here are a few factors responsible for the purple coloration of your ghost peppers

  • The natural ripening process
  • Temperature
  • Sunlight
  • Soil factors
  • Natural occurrence
  • Pollination
  • Genetic modification, etc.

Is There Any Science Behind Ghost Peppers Turning Purple? 

The scientific explanation for ghost peppers turning purple lies in understanding agricultural hybridization and pollination. 

Two types of hybridization exist for growing various kinds and colors of ghost peppers:

  • Planned Hybridization: The farmer is intentional about inter- and intra- breeding various pepper species.
  • Accidental Hybridization: This is the natural type of hybridization where the farmer has no control. It is usually the type of hybridization when plants are allowed to grow in the wild. Also, birds, insects, wind and other factors of natural pollination contribute to accidental hybridization. 

When peppers grow in the wild, pollination occurs naturally, causing them to blend several genetic and phenotypic properties of different species to yield a hybrid pepper. Essentially, the ghost pepper, also known as Bhut Jolokia, is a hybrid form of chili that is indigenous to Indians. 

The environmental factors and warm climate make it easy for ghost peppers to grow in India. However, when Bhut Jolokia won the Guinness record for the world’s hottest pepper, it became necessary to understand more about it. 

Interestingly, the world is constantly seeking ways to grow hotter peppers than we already have. As a result, genetic modification and hybridization of peppers were discovered. Ghost peppers are, therefore, a naturally occurring hybrid of two types of peppers, Capsicum chinense × Capsicum frutescens. 

So a fusion of qualities from both types or species of peppers makes further genetic variations of pepper limitless. Besides, the world keeps growing more species of super hot peppers by cross-pollinating several hot peppers to become the world’s hottest pepper.

Fun Fact: The continuous quest to grow super-hot peppers forms a significant part of the pleasure of setting up social pepper eating contests for fun.  

Are Purple Ghost Peppers As Hot as the Red Ones?

Purple ghost peppers are not as hot as the common red ones. According to popular opinion, ghost peppers lose their heat intensity the farther their color is from red. As a result, the red bhut jolokia remains the hottest variety of ghost peppers, while the purple ghost peppers have the most negligible heat. 

However, purple ghost peppers are still way hotter than other peppers. For instance, the purple Bhut jolokia is about 800,000 SHU, about 125 times hotter than your average Jalapeno pepper. 

Color Variants of Ghost Peppers

The advent of variety is undoubtedly one of the most exciting features of modern agriculture. As a result, there are several color variations of ghost peppers with slightly different qualities than the traditional ghost pepper. 

Here they are:

  • Red Ghost Pepper
  • Yellow Ghost Pepper
  • Orange Ghost Pepper
  • White Ghost Pepper
  • Brown Ghost Pepper
  • Peach Ghost Pepper
  • Purple Ghost Pepper

By the way if ghost pepper turn into black it may be plant disease please check here.

Below is a table showing how these ghost peppers differ from one another and relate to the traditional red ghost pepper. 

Ghost Pepper Color VariantsGeneral Characteristics
Red Ghost PepperThe most widely known and the hottest among the ghost pepper types.
Yellow Ghost PepperThey look similar to the red one but not as hot.
Orange Ghost PepperThey are slightly more prominent than the red ones, about six inches long and equally spicy.
White Ghost PeppersThey have more of an off-white color or tinted yellow. Smooth skin and citrus flavor.
Brown Ghost PeppersThey have a more intense aroma, slightly sweet with an earthy undertone, and not as hot as red ones.
Peach Ghost PeppersSame spiciness as the red ones with a more fruity after taste.
Purple Ghost PeppersThey are the rarest type, most petite in size, and milder taste. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Ghost Peppers Be Purple?

Yes, ghost peppers can be purple and exist as a rare variant of the Bhut Jolokia. Purple ghost peppers are the mildest variants of ghost peppers. However, they are about 125 times hotter than the average Jalapeno pepper. Purple ghost peppers measure up to 800,000 Scoville heat units and are naturally occurring.

What Color Should Ghost Pepper Be When Picked?

Ghost peppers reach their final color when they attain maturity and full ripeness. Generally, the final color transformation of ghost pepper is red. It also depicts when they are at their hottest. The best time to harvest ghost peppers is when they attain full maturity and ripeness. However, some people still harvest ghost peppers green and unripe.  

What Are the Color Shades of Ghost Peppers?

Ghost peppers start as green when unripe and transform through several colour shades to reach full ripeness and maturity. Sometimes, they become yellow, then gradually turn orange, brown, and purple, from where they lighten progressively into ripe red. However, the color transformation is not a definite pattern for the ripening process, as there are different types of ghost peppers. 

Final Thoughts

You need not be alarmed because your ghost peppers are turning purple since it doesn’t mean spoilage or disease. However, if you notice your ghost peppers turning purple, it is time to investigate if it is due to the species or a natural part of the ripening process. You might also want to take a close look at your planting environment, and when in doubt, consult some pepper planting experts for guidance.  

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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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