02 December 2021

A bell pepper exhibiting "parthenocarpy"

My wife found this while preparing one of her favorite vegetables; she says she sees the phenomenon not infrequently.  As best I can tell from a quick search, it's called "internal proliferation" and is a form of parthenocarpy ("natural or artificially induced production of fruit without fertilization of ovules. The fruit is therefore seedless").  I'm not sure why the little pepper is green while the larger one is red - presumably from lack of sunlight as a result of the difference in their ages (tx, John).

Reposted from 2012 to add this time-lapse video of the growth of a bell pepper (via Kottke):


  1. The only difference between the colors of bell peppers are their age.

    Green are the youngest, thus the one on the inside the the least mature, whereas red peppers are the most ripe they will get.

  2. When I saw that, I thought the same thing. This is due to the age of the pepper. I live in New Mexico and we have Red and Green "New Mexican" chilli peppers. They are different than Califorian or Mexican chili, but look simular. The age is all that is different. Younger chilis will be green and older chilis will be red. Hotness is not dependent on color but strain of chili. Also I have seen jalapenos do this as well. They will change from green to red if left on the vine to rippen.

  3. When they say "not infrequently", do they mean, frequently ?

    1. Interesting question. I don't think "not infrequently" means "frequently," but I suppose that might be implied (I use it to mean "occasionally").

  4. I get these quite a bit (love peppers too). I never really thought much of it and would have never guessed it had a, rather sinister sounding, name. Or sounding like some sort of disease. Figured it was just some quirk with the pepper. I've had them in both green and red but I couldn't tell if it occurs more with one over another. Agreed on age determines color. That is why reds are more expensive than green (riskier to grow them to ripeness therefore more costly) but why would a green pepper that is immature have one growing inside? After reading this I would assume that as the pepper matures and colors then one would develop. Either way, the little buggers are tasty!

  5. Yep, I see this FREQUENTLY (I'm not afraid to use the word!) when I'm cutting red peppers. I never buy green peppers, so I can't compare the two.

  6. have seen the red pepper with one inside it got one yellow one today


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