African Bird Pepper

To all my h-steppers hailing from the continent of Africa, a big shout out to you all! And of course, greetings to all my h-steppers around the world. Now, I know you see the title, but are you familiar with it? Ever used it before? Well, if you haven’t that is ok, because it will be a pleasure to tell you more about this pepper/plant.

What is African bird pepper?

African bird pepper It is grown wild in the northwest regions in Africa, where it originates but it is now cultivated globally.

A fun fact is that it’s one of the hottest peppers in the world, bragging a Scoville heat (the potency of heat/spiciness based on the concentration of capsaicinoids within peppers, especially, chili peppers invented by the American pharmacist Wilbur Lincoln Scoville in 1912) of 175,000! Can you imagine a pepper is considered hot at about 100 Scoville Heat Unit (SHU), much less 175,000?

African chili peppers on a white background, green and red pepper


What does it look like?

These little powerhouses (the plant’s fruit pods), and I say little because they are about ¾ inch in length (sometimes about 1 inch), are green with a smooth exterior that is tapered in shape leading to a blunt/sharp point. 

But they are green when they aren’t mature, therefore are usually red (most common color), purple, yellow, or orange once they have reached the level of maturity. The leaves are evergreen and ovate where the plant itself can grow up to about 3 ½ feet in height.

Popular uses

The African bird pepper is used in stews, hot sauces, grounded spices, bean dishes, curries, and others. It is also used for medicinal purposes too.


Some common aliases for African bird pepper are pilipili (Swahili word for pepper), birdseye pepper, tabasco pepper, red pepper, guinea pepper, cayenne pepper, bird-eye chili pepper, and peri peri.

Where To Buy African Bird Pepper

You can buy this in its whole or ground form. If you can’t find it at your local farmer’s market, food stores or supermarkets then try online. In some regions, it will be more popular than others, which is something you should be mindful of.


The plant normally blooms white or light-yellow flowers, in which after a while you will get to harvest the peppers. The peak harvest period is from mid-April to early October or sometimes September. This is also dependent on the region it is grown.


It’s feasible to store in a sealed container away, heat and moisture; hence, refrigerate. A recommendation is to handle with care, so it’s best to always wash your hands after handling the pepper. Always avoid your eyes and nose while handling the pepper as well.

Health benefits of African Bird Pepper

Peppers don’t just act as enhancers to your dishes but they are nutritious too! African bird peppers are no exception. What components are in African bird peppers that help to give your body a nutritious boost? Let’s find out!

Nutritional Profile

Yes, it’s that time! Here are a few components that are found in African Bird Peppers:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Fiber
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • (Ascorbic Acid) Vitamin C 
  • (RAE) Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E (Alpha-tocopherol)
  • Vitamin B9 (Folate)
  • Choline
  • Cryptoxanthin beta
  • Beta carotene
  • Lutein & zeaxanthin
  • Capsaicinoid (capsaicin)

Wow, just re-reading that and even I am admitting that’s a lot coming from something so spicy.

Top 3 Amazing Health Benefits of African Bird Pepper  

  1. May Boost Your Metabolism

The capsaicin in African bird peppers contains metabolism-boosting properties. Why having a good metabolism is important?

Because it helps to maintain life-sustaining chemical processes/reactions in living organisms. There are basically three main purposes of metabolism, are: to convert food to energy in order to run cellular processes, to convert food/fuel to building blocks for; proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and some carbohydrates, and thirdly the eradication of metabolic wastes from the organism.

Metabolism has other purposes too like transporting substances from one cell to another, but all these enzyme-catalyzed reactions allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and adapt and respond to stimuli within their environments. Read More.

  1. May Lower Blood Pressure

The substances found in African Bird Pepper like magnesium, potassium, and calcium helps to decrease and regulate high blood pressure (hypertension) in people. Other substances/compounds found in African bird pepper also attributes to this like choline and lutein but the three minerals stated above are the top substances that people use regularly in consumption. Read More.

  1. Dashing Antioxidant Properties

Choline, cryptoxanthin beta, beta carotene, lutein & zeaxanthin, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid),  (RAE) Vitamin A, and Vitamin E (Alpha-tocopherol) are top candidates for antioxidants that help your body to slow down aging, fight deadly diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer. 

helps to boost the immune system and assist with metabolic processes.

However, as the name suggests ‘anti’ meaning against and oxidant meaning an oxidizing agent that combines or removes electrons from other reactants during a redox reaction; is one of the main purposes of antioxidants. Didn’t catch that?

No problem! Antioxidants are like the stop button for the free radicals that are byproducts of the process of oxidation. Free radicals are highly reactive due to the free unpaired valence electrons (these electrons are what give the atom its properties as well as participate in chemical processes) that they have. These said free unpaired valence electrons can stimulate other reactions that may lead to cancer and other diseases. Read More.

Other Possible Health Benefits Include:

  • Cold and flu
  • Can Help Reduce Hunger
  • Aid Digestive Health
  • May Help Relieve Pain
  • May Improve Psoriasis
  • Anti-fungal and anti-bacterial
  • May Reduce Cancer Risk 
  • Easy to Add to Your Diet
  • Aids indigestion
  • Improves circulation of blood
  • Pain relief (muscular)
  • Relieves headaches and migraines
  • Anti-irritant aid (in small abundance)
  • Weight loss

Yes, African bird pepper is that good! This pepper is also may be beneficial for arthritis, headaches, and cardiovascular issues. But like many other things it does have its cons.

I recommend not to overindulge because this can lead to nausea, stomach pain, headaches, and others that we don’t want to affect our bodies. Or as the new generation would say ‘we ain’t about that life’.

It’s always a blast, but until next time- kuwa salama huko nje- which is Swahili for be safe out there!

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African bird peppers on a black background


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