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Peppers in the market at Cliza, Bolivia. Foreground, ají; background, rocoto. (W.H. Eshbaugh)


anywhere else, and its introduction north of Colombia is almost certainly post-Columbian, perhaps even twentieth century.

Rocoto occurs only in cultivation; its wild ancestors have not been defined, although genetically it is closely allied to the ulupicas (see below).

Andean Ají. The common cultivated pepper of the southern part of the Andean area is the brilliantly colored Capsicum baccatum. 4 Cultivated forms seem to have been domesticated from wild, weedy plants in a large band of territory stretching from southern Peru eastwards through Bolivia and Paraguay to southwestern Brazil. The center of origin is probably Bolivia. Some peppers unearthed from archeological sites resemble this species, and this has led people to


4 More properly, C. baccatum var. pendulum. The wild progenitor of this crop, C. baccatum var. baccatum, grows at even higher elevations (up to 1,600 m) in Bolivia. Its local names are “arivivi” and “cumbai,” and it has a narrow distribution from central Peru, through Bolivia, to northern Argentina and southern Brazil. It, too, deserves research and testing. Information from W.H. Eshbaugh.


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