Sometimes peppers, bell peppers, capsicum and chilies confuse me, perhaps, because I am a South Asian, but this article is written in American English.

Avoiding nightshade vegetables (including potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers) may help control inflammation related to psoriasis.

For more context see the subtitle Diet of the article http://www.healthline.com/health/psoriasis-alternative-treatments

Here is the second meaning of pepper:

a capsicum, especially a sweet pepper. ( by Google dictionary)

Is bell pepper (yellow,red and green) a capsicum?

  • 3
    A green pepper is the only capsicum without capsaicin. Few native speakers of English would know this, as it is a scientific term not in daily use. I had to look it up. bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio203/2011/shook_john/classification.htm
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 0:11
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    That's incorrect. "A green pepper" is not an accurate description of or a name for bell peppers in general, many of which are other colors (red, yellow, orange, purple, etc.). In other words, many red peppers have no capsaicin and many green peppers do have capsaicin. (I cook with all sorts of peppers every day.)
    – user230
    Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 1:32
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    A "green pepper", in my neck of the woods, is synonymous with "(sweet) bell pepper". I should probably have typed "bell" but green just showed up there out of habit.
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 2:29
  • Not an answer, but...could I just throw a cat in the general direction of the pigeons & add... in Italian, peperoni is a capsicum, not a sausage: & black [or white, or green] pepper has no relation to any capsicum at all, but is a vine fruit, or drupe. Edit I suppose the actual answer is, 'yes, a bell pepper [any colour] is a capsicum' Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 20:51

3 Answers 3


To get this away from botany and back to English: yes, at least in American English, the word pepper can indeed refer to a bell pepper of any color. With appropriate context, it can also refer to a chili pepper, and as an uncountable noun, it can refer to black pepper, usually in its dried ground form as a table seasoning.

The article you quote seems to be suggesting that psoriasis sufferers avoid bell peppers and chili peppers, but not black pepper.


This is a case where botany and English language overlap. To understand the sense in which the word 'pepper' is used in example sentence and to understand the relationship between 'pepper' and 'capsicum' we have to consider two botanical issues:

  1. How do plants get names and what kinds of names do they have?
  2. How are plants categorised? (The question of taxonomy).

And, as you might guess, things get a bit more complicated, because there are overlaps in these two questions.

  1. Plants have scientific names which are in Latin. They also have common names which can be in any language.

Scientific names have rules. They are binomial (consist of two parts) following a system that was first (formally) introduced by Carl Linnaeus. The first part of the name is the name of genus; the second part of the name refers to the specific species inside the genus.

E.g. Capsicum anuum is a species that belongs to the genus Capsicum.

  1. Taxonomy

Plants (as well as other living organisms) are organised in hierarchical groups: species < genus < family < order < ...< kingdom. There is a sub-group within the same species: variety. One species (with the same Latin name) can have many varieties, and their names are distinguished by adding 'var.'. E.g: Capsicum annuum var. annuum and Capsicum annuum var. glabrisculum.

The source of confusion

are of course the common names which don't have such strict rules to follow. In general, in one language the same common name can refer to two (or more) different species (e.g. in different areas, common names often vary locally), two different common names can refer to the same species; a common name can refer to a whole genus; sometimes there are common names for a whole plant family (usually a common name of a plant that belongs to this family is used for this purpose).


Solanum tuberosum - common name: potato

Solanum lycopersicum - common name: tomato

These are two species that belong to the same genus: Solanum. They also belong to the same family: Solanaceae.

Another plant that belongs to this family?

Capsicum annuum - common name: pepper

Here - pepper is used as a common name for both the species Capsicum annuum and the genus Capsicum. This includes plants such as Capsicum baccatum and many others.

So, yes, you can say: Capsicum => pepper

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They, together with potatoes, tomatoes and many other plants belong to the

Solanaceae family = Nightshade family.

There are several homonyms in English language that are spelled and pronounced pepper one of which is Pipper nigrum, a completely different spcies, of different genus, family and of course culinary uses.


Yes, all bell peppers (green, red, yellow, orange) are capsicums. Green bell peppers are non-ripe red, yellow, or orange peppers. That is to make no statement about the amount of capsacin in them, but they are all in that genus.

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