Neal Weisenberger

The past couple years the Internet has been touting male and female bell pepper fruit.

If you look carefully at your bell peppers, it may be divided into three lobes, which makes it male fruit and has less seeds and better for cooking. Female bell peppers are supposed to have four lobes. The female fruit has more seeds, are sweeter, and best to be eaten fresh. You look at the bottom of the fruit to see the lobes.

I have no idea who came up with this idea, but fruit does not come in sexes. However, a fruit is the mature tissue of the female part of the flower. So if a fruit did have a sex, it would be more likely female.

The sex of a plant comes from what type of flowers the plant has. Most plants have flowers containing the male and female parts, including peppers. Some varieties of plants have flowers that have only male flowers and other plants have only female flowers.

If you want to grow pistachio nut trees or kiwi, you need a female plant and a male plant. In the case of a cottonless cottonwood, you plant a male tree which cannot produce a fruit/nut which is the cotton like material.

Then some plants have male flowers and separate female flowers on the same plant. That is the case for squash. In the case of your squash, the first couple of flowers the plant produces are male. Then it starts producing a couple female flowers and then a couple male flowers.

Often you get scared when your first zucchini fruit falls off the vine. It was likely it was a male flower, starting to look like a zucchini. It then falls off because it has no female parts to form the fruit.

Corn also separate male and female flowers. The male flower is the tassel at the top of the plant, and female flowers which are the silk or hairs on your corn cob.

Back to the three-lobed verses four-lobed bell pepper. The main difference is probably the different varieties of peppers. The are many different varieties of bell peppers that could be labeled as bell peppers at the grocery store. Also, some varieties of bell peppers many have a range of three to five lobes on the same plant. I have not seen anything on the internet about the sex of a five-lobed bell pepper.

It is true that a three lobed pepper will have less seeds than a four-lobed pepper. The less lobes the less area to produce seeds. In hot peppers there are small glands located in the inter membrane of the pepper that produces the chemical capsaicin which cause the heat. The seeds are surrounded by the membrane, making the seeds hot, however the membrane is even hotter. To cool down a hot pepper it is always recommended to remove the seeds, but it is just as important to remove the inter membrane also.

Since bell and sweet peppers have very few to no glands, the flavor comes from the flesh of the bell pepper. More or less seeds will not make bell peppers sweeter.

Bell peppers come in several colors. Most grow into a green stage before becoming red, orange or yellow. In fact, many green bell peppers will become red with time. Instead of following internet myths try, growing some different types of bell or sweet peppers. Find a variety that you like the flavor of.

We have 12 different bell peppers growing at home, including purple and chocolate colored. We also have about 10 sweet pepper, including several colors of Lunch Box peppers which are a bite size sweet peppers, that we enjoy snacking on.

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