Chili, why are you hot?
Chili, why are you hot?
What good is capsaicin for chili peppers?

the hot feeling of chili comes from capsaicin, which is not a sense of taste, but a burning pain acting on the temperature sensor (more reading: the "smell" on the tip of the tongue)

however, why are chili peppers spicy? Is capsaicin of any use to it?

capsaicin is indeed beneficial to the survival and reproduction of hot pepper, which is mainly reflected in two aspects: one is that capsaicin helps pepper choose the object to spread seeds, and the other is to help pepper fight fungal infection.

for chili peppers, birds are more suitable for spreading seeds, while mammals with molars are not suitable, because the latter may chew up and destroy chili seeds when they eat chili fruit. Capsaicin has a choice: mammals feel spicy when they eat it, but birds don't respond to capsaicin, which helps seeds spread better.

(a bird that is not afraid of spices)

in addition, capsaicin can help pepper fight fungal infection, which can also affect the survival of pepper seeds. However, although capsaicin is good, spicy chili peppers are not always easier to survive. In addition to the resources consumed by synthetic capsaicin, spicy chili peppers have other things to pay: studies have found that hot chili plants are more likely to lose water than non-spicy ones, so they may not have any advantage in places with low humidity.

PS: the place where capsaicin accumulates in chili peppers is mainly the placenta (that is, the "white tendons" connected to the seeds), from which we can see the relationship between capsaicin and protected seeds.

an extended reading: can chili peppers kill people if they are too hot? Read the original text to learn more

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(I don't know if you like chili, but I like it anyway)