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Wilson's Vietnamese Devil Pepper

Capsicum annuum

Grown by: Epiphany School in Boston, MA

  • $5.00

This incredibly hot family heirloom pepper was shared with Epiphany School by the Wilson Family! Mr. Johnny Wilson is an Epiphany graduate, Dean of Students at the middle school, and parent of two children at the early learning center. His mom, Mrs. Liz Wilson, is an amazing gardener who brought these rare seeds over from Vietnam in the early 2000s. She has been saving their seeds every year, selecting for heat each time, which has resulted in a pepper with a Scoville level we estimate to be 300,000 - 500,000 SHU. This pepper has an outstanding lifespan: Mrs. Wilson brings her favorite plants inside each year to overwinter and says that the first pepper plant (which she calls the grandparent plant) has lived for over 20 years!

Over the past three seasons of growing Wilson’s Vietnamese Devil Pepper in our garden, our students have become obsessed with the pepper. Everyone knows the story of how the Wilsons introduced the pepper to us -- and most everyone also has their own story of taking too big of a bite of the pepper in the garden on a dare and spending the rest of the afternoon with their mouth attached to the garden faucet. Our students have been part of each step of growing the pepper to sell the seeds, starting with the math we needed to do to estimate how many plants to grow in the garden and culminating with extracting and drying the seeds for sale.

These small but mighty peppers grow on dark green plants with fuzzy stems and leaves. The peppers themselves point upward as they grow, facing towards the sun. They start off black and over the course of a month slowly turn red, which is when they are at their hottest and sweetest, the best time to harvest. The Wilsons taught us to harvest the red peppers by grasping them at the base of the stem and pulling sideways. The Wilsons eat them alongside their meals -- a plate full of fresh peppers in the middle of the table, and everyone takes bites of the pepper between bites of food. Mr. Wilson also dries the peppers, makes them into flakes, and boils them in oil to make chili oil. Our students have been making hot sauce with the flesh of the peppers from our seed keeping!

Days to maturity: 100-120 

Seeds per pack: 25

Germination rate: 93% on 12/08/2023

Planting / harvesting notes

We seed the peppers in the greenhouse about 8 weeks before planting in the garden, starting them on heat mats to aid with germination. We plant them in our garden beds with 12-14 inch spacing; it’s helpful to provide support for plants (stakes or trellis). 100-120 days to maturity (or maybe longer, depending on how you calculate it - seeded in mid March, fully ripe at end of August).

Seed keeping notes

Mrs. Wilson swears by drying the peppers first and then extracting the seeds, but we were in a rush, so we processed the peppers while wet. Since the pepper is pretty small, it’s much faster to mashing peppers together in water than to cut each pepper open individually to scoop out the seeds. We wear goggles and gloves when processing these pepper seeds and make sure we are outside; any contact of pepper juice/seeds with eyes or face is very painful.


This product is part of the Southeast Asian Collection.