In 2007, Guinness World Records certified that the ghost pepper was the world’s hottest chili pepper, 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. The ghost chili is rated at more than 1 million Scoville heat units (SHUs). However, the ghost chili was shortly superseded by the Infinity chili in 2011, followed by the Naga Viper, the Trinidad moruga scorpion in 2012 and the Carolina Reaper on August 7, 2013.
The jalapeño is variously named huachinango, for the ripe red jalapeño, and chile gordo (meaning “fat chili pepper”) also known as cuaresmeño.
The name jalapeño is Spanish for “from Xalapa” (also spelled Jalapa), the capital city of Veracruz, Mexico, where the pepper was traditionally cultivated. The name Xalapa is itself of Nahuatlorigin, formed from roots xālli [ˈʃaːlːi] “sand” and āpan [ˈaːpan] “water place”.
The habanero chili comes from the Amazon, from which it was spread, reaching Mexico. A specimen of a domesticated habanero plant, dated at 8,500 years old, was found at an archaeological site in Peru. An intact fruit of a small domesticated habanero, found in pre-ceramic levels in Guitarrero Cave in the Peruvian highlands, was dated to 6500 BC.
The habanero chili was disseminated by Spanish colonists to other areas of the world, to the point that 18th-century taxonomists mistook China for its place of origin and called it Capsicum chinense (“the Chinese pepper”).
The poblano (Capsicum annuum) is a mild chili pepper originating in the state of Puebla, Mexico. Dried, it is called ancho or chile ancho, from the Mexican Spanish name ancho (“wide”) or chile ancho (“wide chile”). Stuffed fresh and roasted it is popular in chile rellenos poblanos.
While poblanos tend to have a mild flavor, occasionally and unpredictably they can have significant heat. Different peppers from the same plant have been reported to vary substantially in heat intensity. The ripened red poblano is significantly hotter and more flavorful than the less ripe, green poblano.
A closely related variety is the mulato, which is darker in color, sweeter in flavor, and softer in texture.