GARDENING: Going Loco over chillies

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I’M a bit of a girl when it comes to chillies – I’m not a fan of very hot food, so chillifests leave me cold.

However, when I was sent a packet of Loco seeds to trial, it would have been churlish not to sow them - what a great plant. It’s compact (only grows to about 2ft) and bushy and covered with flowers.

You can’t deny how decorative it is - the inch-long cone-shaped fruits are held upright above the foliage like little fairy lights. The unripe fruits start purple/cream, changing from orange to red - the look like plump blackcurrants, but you’d get a shock if you ate one.

Loco, despite its name, is not supposed to be that hot - slightly less than a cayenne pepper, a medium heat level of about 24,000 SHU*.

Which Gardening Chilli Trials 2012 recommended it as a Best Buy – it said: “the small rounded fruit looked very attractive, both when they were an unripe cream and purple and when they turned a ripe, rich red.”

Loco was bred in the UK so makes an excellent pot plant for a sheltered patio - although mine are staying in the conservatory.

*The Scoville scale is the measurement of the pungency (spicy heat) of chillies or other spicy foods in Scoville heat units (SHU), a function of capsaicin concentration, named after its creator, US pharmacist Wilbur Scoville.

Chilli heat

OTHER popular chillies in descending order of hellishness:

2,000,000-2,200,000 SHU: Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, Carolina Reaper.

855,000–1,463,700 SHU: Naga Viper; Bhut Jolokia (ghost pepper), Trinidad Scorpion Butch T pepper; Bedfordshire Super Naga.

100,000–350,000 SHU: Habanero chilli, Scotch bonnet pepper.

30,000–50,000 SHU: Cayenne pepper, Tabasco pepper.

10,000–23,000 SHU: Serrano pepper.

3,500–10,000 SHU: Jalapeño.

100–900 SHU: Paprika, Pimento.

0 SHU: Sweet bell pepper.