The Hot Peppers use a wide variety of methods to pollinate; birds, bats, butterflies, mice, ants, water, and wind. Birds like the Bald Eagle do not have the same sensitivity to capsaicin, because it targets a specific pain receptor in mammals that birds don't have. Hot peppers are eaten by birds and the seeds of the peppers drop off while the birds are eating the pods or the seeds pass through the digestive tract unharmed. This relationship may be part of the reason why hot peppers produce capsaicin. Birdseed will sometimes have capsaicin-based products to deter anything that isn’t a bird. Capsaicin is also a defense mechanism against fungi that try to get inside the pepper through holes made by insects, like the Monarch Butterfly.

If you're reading this I'm assuming you are a human, so you probably want to know how hot peppers affect you. People use hot peppers in a number of different ways, ranging from the regular use to spice up food, all the way to curing tooth aches! The capsaicin is the key to why the hot pepper is so different than any other fruit you see, and the reason hot peppers are grown around the world. You will see examples of other ways the hot pepper is used in the Surprising Facts section.

The hot pepper engages in mutualistic symbiosis with the fungi glomeromycota. This helps the plant by bringing in necessary nutrients it needs and helps the fungi by supplying them with sugars. Glomeromycota produces endomycorrhizae that are in symbiosis with the plants roots. The mycorrhizae receives carbohydrates from the plant in exchange for functioning as an extended root system, improving mineral uptake by the plant roots. As mutualistic symbionts, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are able to grow inside the plant roots without causing any diseases. They are obligate symbionts because no one has ever been able to grow glomeromycota separately from a plant host. Once they invade the root, they usually form tree-shaped structures called arbuscules that often fill the root cells. Because the cell walls of both symbionts are much thinner along the surface of the arbuscule branches, both symbiotic partners are brought into very close contact. Want to check out another plant that uses this same type of symbiosis? Click here!

Here comes the fun part (not to say anything before this wasn't a blast)! Click here to learn about how hot peppers are being used as a hangover cure!