Chillies are a great spice to add flavour and colour to any food dish. But what makes them different to any other spice is Capsaicin (the chemical that gives chillies their heat), hence the generic name of all chillies Capsicums.
This sensation of heat effects all mammals, and is measured in Scoville units (SHU). To give you some idea of how these levels of heat rank I have drawn the following:
|15 - 16 million||Pure Capsaicin|
|100,000 - 350, 000||Scotch Bonnet|
|50,000 - 100,000||Birds eye chilli|
|0||Sweet Bell pepper|
Chilli "Families" & SHU
The SHU of a chilli will be influenced greatly by its species. There are many species of chilli but perhaps the most common four types are;
1) Capsicum annuum (e.g. jalapeño)
2) Capsicum frutescens (e.g. Tobasco)
3) Capsicum baccatum (e.g. Aji)
4) Capsicum Chinese (e.g. Habanero)
Capsicum Chinese & The Superhots
It may be the last on our list, but it certainly isn't the least. Of all the species of chilli these are known for their extreme heat. So much so that ALL top 5 of the worlds hottest chillies belong to this species, and here they are in reverse order:
5) Dorset Naga - part of the same subspecies as the Naga Morich from Bangladesh, this was selectively breed by sea spring seeds to produce a stronger strain. SHU 1,032,310.
4) Bhut Jolokia - Originating from Assam in India this chilli packs one hell of a punch, thus its affectionate nickname the "ghost chilli". SHU 1,041,427.
3) Morouga Red - Considered to be a cross between the Trinidad Scorpion and a Red Savina chilli is a real super hot with an interesting looking skin. SHU 1.3 million +
2) Naga Viper - Was the worlds hottest chilli but only for a few months, produced in England by the chilli pepper company this has one hell of a name and has one hell of a heat level. SHU 1,382,118.
1) Trinidad Scorpion Butch T - The worlds hottest Chill, produced in Australia by the Hippy Seed Company. Its heat level is just ridiculous. SHU 1,463,700.