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One of the veggies that my Keplerians grow is peppers. I have heard of some sweet peppers cross pollinating with hot peppers making the sweet peppers hotter and the hot peppers sweeter. However that involves a minimum of 2 plants. 1 per type of pepper.

So I was wondering if it is plausible for a single plant to produce both sweet and hot peppers.

I think it would be in 1 of 2 ways.

Either the plant produces 2 types of flowers, 1 for sweet peppers and 1 for hot peppers and those different flowers attract different pollinators.

Or once the plant reaches a certain stage it will transition from 1 type to another. Some might produce hot peppers first and then start producing sweet peppers and others might do just the opposite. This could still involve 2 types of flowers but only one type being produced at any given point.

Is it plausible that a single plant could produce both hot and sweet peppers?

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    $\begingroup$ Have you considered way 3: The peppers are sweet at the beginning and ripen to become hot? Many fruits are eaten at different ripening stages because they change their taste $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Feb 11 '18 at 10:25
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Already happens

First off, lets be clear that sweet and hot peppers are the same species of plant. Bell peppers, jalaepeno and cayenne are all Capsicum annum.

Second, I can tell you from gardening jalapenos that you can get divergent results from the same plant based on growing conditions. In Virginia, you can get the first peppers from a plant in June, and continue to get a harvest until October or later, depending on the earliest frost. If you overwater the plant, no only will you get bigger peppers, you will get much weaker ones. We had such a rainy summer last year that my last peppers were not noticably hotter than bell peppers. But if you have a dry summer, and water (heavily) only once a week, you can get very spicy peppers. So you can vary pepper-heat level over time for your plant.

Finally, there are plants that produce two different fruits; they are called grafted chimeras. An example is the Bizzaria of Florence, is a citron and sour orange tree grafted together so that it produces the both fruit.

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  • $\begingroup$ Rep for mentioning grafting! Not easy with non-woody plants, but possible all the same. $\endgroup$ – JBH Feb 11 '18 at 16:32
  • $\begingroup$ There are also a number of commercially-available trees that are grafted to produce a number of varieties. Apples are common - I've seen up to 5 varieties per tree advertised. Peach, plum, & nectarine can also be had: fruitsaladtrees.com I have to say, though (having tried a bit of grafting myself) that it's more trouble than it's worth for annuals like peppers. Just plant a variety of seeds, and hope your growing season is long enough for them to ripen. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Feb 11 '18 at 19:22
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Shoots from various fruit trees of the same species can be grafted onto the root-stock of a single plant thus enabling one apple tree to give fruit from several varieties of apple. Grafting is a technique that can grow some kinds of peppers. What you propose is actually quite possible without any crazy scifi tech what-so ever. Grafting multiple variety fruit bearing plants has been done for centuries.

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  • $\begingroup$ The OP seemed to be asking for this to be done naturally, with no Keplerian intervention. $\endgroup$ – DonielF Feb 11 '18 at 8:49
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In Viticulture, there is a concept of 'late harvest' grapes. The idea is that you leave the grapes on the vine after they've ripened so that they dry out a bit. That concentrates the sweetness in the remaining juice.

I actually like an 'early harvest' wine (when I drink it), because it's less sweet and makes it a refreshing summer beverage with less alcohol because there the sugar actually makes up a smaller percentage of the juice.

So; imagine a pepper with a standard amount of Capsaicin which makes the pepper hot (we call peppers capsicums in Australia, but I'll run with it to keep language consistent) but they contain a high water content.

Early harvest - higher heat by comparison to sugars thanks to higher water content.

Late Harvest - sweetness overwhelms the Capsaicin and the pepper tastes sweeter.

Ideally, in this environment you want the Capsaicin to degrade in the 'fruit' over time; start out high, but leave the pepper over time with the water. I'm not sure how you would do that but that would mean that you have a plant that produces both, the only difference is harvest time.

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This could serve as a defense mechanism. Fruits are designed so that there’s plenty of sugar for the seed when it grows, which gives it a better chance at survival. Even when an animal eats the fruit, if it eats the seed, too, the seed is designed to withstand the stomach acids and simply pass right through the digestive tract. When they come out, they get free fertilizer.

Perhaps your peppers work in a similar way. When they’re fully grown, either the seeds inside have free sugar or free fertilizer. In the younger stages, though, the seed isn’t developed enough to withstand stomach acids, and even if it does, it’s not mature enough to stand a reasonable chance at growing. So to combat this, your Kepler Peppers have evolved a defense mechanism: make the young plants extra spicy, so that animals will think twice about eating them.

Or perhaps it’s the other way around - the Keplerians enjoy spicy foods and despise sweet ones. As a result, the peppers have sweet young stages, to help the seeds mature even once the fruit is detached, while they have spicy mature stages, in which they attract Keplerians to provide fertilizer, as above.

In the former scenario, @TimBII beat me to it with the science, so I’ll direct you to his answer for more in that department. The purpose of this post is to attempt to describe an evolutionary advantage to having such a plant: in the former, it’s for defense; in the latter, it’s to foster a symbiotic relationship with the Keplerians.

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If you want the plant to produce different grades of hotness without external intervention (like grafting suggested by TCAT117), you can use a plant in which the grade of hotness of the fruit strongly depends on the local microclimate experienced by the ripening fruit.

I.e. the more sun it gets, the more hot it grows. Thus the sun hit peppers would be hot, and the shaded ones would be sweet.

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