The chili pepper (also chile, chile pepper, chilli pepper, or chilli), from Nahuatl chīlli (Nahuatl pronunciation: [ˈt͡ʃiːlːi] (About this soundlisten)), is the berry-fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum which are members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Chili peppers are widely used in many cuisines as a spice to add pungent ‘heat’ to dishes. Capsaicin and related compounds known as capsaicinoids are the substances giving chili peppers their intensity when ingested or applied topically. Although this definition would technically include bell peppers, in common language they are often two discrete categories: bell peppers and chili peppers.
Chili peppers originated in Mexico. After the Columbian Exchange, many cultivars of chili pepper spread across the world, used for both food and traditional medicine. This diversity has led to a wide variety of varieties and cultivars, including the annuum species, with its glabriusculum variety and New Mexico cultivar group, and the species of baccatum, chinense, frutescens, and pubescens.