Where did the Carolina Reaper come from?


Carolina Reaper Peppers

Red noga Chilli / Ghost Pepper

Red Noga Chilli / Ghost Pepper

‘Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper’ is a registered trademark of the Puckerbutt Pepper Company.  So of course it came from Smokin’ Ed.  More specifically Ed Currie, who I understand is a bit of a mad scientist when it comes to plants.  But where does it come from?  What’s in it’s DNA?

The photo above comes from Wiki commons.  It is the photo currently being used by Wikipedia to discuss the Carolina Reaper.  According to Wikipedia: “The original cross was a red naga pepper and a red savina pepper.”  The quote is foot noted to the main page of the Puckerbutt Pepper Company’s website.  However, thus far I have not found any page there which confirms the original cross.  Now I could make this easy and just ask, but then I would not have this wonderful challenge.  So lets look at the claim made at Wikipedia.
The Red Naga Chilli pepper, also called the Ghost Pepper.  This beauty was considered the hottest pepper in the world long enough that many folk don’t know the king lost his crown a couple monarchs ago.  If I were to attempt to create the world’s hottest pepper, I imagine I might start with this one.  But lets look at the other pepper listed as mamma and daddy at Wikipedia.

Red Sevana Pepper

Red Savina Pepper

The Red Savina pepper is a cultivar of Habanero.  It was developed by Frank Garcia threw a selective breeding process.  It too held the Guiness Book of World records crown for hottest pepper in the world for a time.  So I imagine it would be a good choose to try and create the next hottest pepper in the world.

Certainly it is possible that the Carolina Reaper is a hybrid of these two.  Wikipedia claims the Carolina Reaper is a cultivar, which indicates it breeds true.  Generally, to create a stable hybrid a person back crosses so many times that the result could look quite a bit different from the original parents.  But let’s remember, the statement is made by an unknown contributor to Wikipedia and not Smokin’ Ed himself.  So without asking the creator, I put my thinking hat on and this is what I came up with.

640px-Pots_of_Trinidad_ScorpionThe Trinidad Scorpion Butch T held the Guiness Book of World Records title for hottest pepper in the world prior to being unseated by the Carolina Reaper.

It was selectively bred from the Trinidad moruga scorpion by a man named Butch T.

It is entirely possible that Wikipedia is right.  Maybe Smokin’ Ed did create the Carolina Reaper by hybridizing two different peppers.  But if so, what he created looks, tastes, and burns like the Trinidad Scorpion.  So my best guess is that like Butch T’s Trinidad Scorpion, the Carolina Reaper has been selectively bred from the Trinidad Scorpion.  In thinking that might be the case, I compared the various tests for heat.

The Trinidad moruga scorpion – Native to Moruga, the peppers range from about 1.2 million Scoville heat units to over 2 million.  However, it is a native plant. Without anyone willing to spend a fortune to have it certified, it won’t make it into the Guiness Book of World Records.

The Trinidad Scorpion Butch T – Bred from the Trinidad moruga scorpion, this pepper tested at 1,463,700 Scoville heat units and made it into the Guiness Book of World Records despite its parent stock occasionally being more than 25% hotter.

The Carolina Reaper – The current record holder with an average of 1,569,300 Scoville heat units and a range over 2 million much like the Trinidad moruga scorpion.

As I expected, all three have similiar ranges of heat.  What I believe the Carolina Reaper to be is a further refinement of the Trinidad moruga scorpion via selective breeding.  I imagine Smokin’ Ed spent years selecting the best peppers to propagate until he got to the point where he wanted to put his name on them.

Good Job….  Excellent Plant…

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