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Chilli is reported to be a native of South America and is widely distributed in all tropical and sub tropical countries including India. It was first introduced in India by the Portuguese towards the end of 15th Century. Now it is grown all over the world except in colder parts.

Chilli belongs to the same family as tomatoes and potatoes. Chillies thus grow in similar conditions to tomatoes although they grow better in higher temperatures and humidity. Chilli, also called red pepper is an important cash crop in India. Both green chillies and dried red ones are used. Many varieties of chillies are grown in warm regions all over the world. In India, chillies are now grown in almost all parts. At present, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal account for about 85 per cent of the total growth area in the country.

Not only do chillies find a place of prominence in food preparation, they are also important for their medical use.

Depending on the variety, Chilli plants can be annuals or perennials. The plant is a highly branched herb. Most varieties bear a single bell shaped white flower at each node. The fruit, a berry, varies in shape and size, again depending on the variety. Starting of as a green fruit, they become red, yellow or orange on ripening. When they ripen, they lose all moisture and become dry. Each fruit contains numerous seeds which are flattish.

Leaves are dark green, simple and elliptical.

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