Bird's eye chili

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Bird's eye chili
Thai peppers.jpg
Several bird's eye chilis on a shrub
SpeciesCapsicum annuum[1]
CultivarBird's Eye
Heat Very hot
Scoville scale100,000 - 225,000 SHU

Bird's eye chili or Thai chili (Thai: prik ki nu, พริกขี้หนู, literally "mouse dung chili" owing to its shape) is a chili pepper, a variety from the species Capsicum annuum native to Mexico. Cultivated across Southeast Asia, it is used extensively in many Asian cuisines. It may be mistaken for a similar-looking chili derived from the species Capsicum frutescens, the cultivar "siling labuyo". Capsicum frutescens fruits are generally smaller and characteristically point upwards.


Bird's eye chilis of assorted colors

The bird's eye chili plant is a perennial with small, tapering fruits, often two or three, at a node. The fruits are very pungent.

The bird's eye chili is small, but is quite hot. It measures around 100,000 - 225,000 Scoville units, which is at the lower half of the range for the habanero, but many times hotter than the spiciest jalapeños.[2]

Commercial-scale drying of chilis in Vietnam.


All chilis found around the world today have their origins in Mexico, Central America, and South America.[3] They were spread by Spanish and Portuguese colonists, missionaries, and traders, together with many other now common crops such as maize, tomatoes and pineapples through the Columbian Exchange. The chili varieties found in Southeast Asia today were brought there in the 16th or 17th century.[4][5]

Uses by humans[edit]

As food[edit]

Bird's eye chili with fish sauce and lime juice is served with a multitude of Thai dishes[6]

In Indonesian cuisine, these chilis are widely used in a variety of dishes and sambals.

In Vietnamese cuisine, these chilis are used in soups, salads, and stir-fried dishes. They are also put in a wide variety of sauces, pastes, and marinades, used as a condiment or eaten raw, both fresh and dried.

In Thai cuisine, these chilis are highly valued for their fruity taste and extreme spiciness. They are extensively used in many Thai dishes, such as in Thai curries and in Thai salads, green as well as the ripe red chilis; or they can just be eaten raw on the side, with for instance, khao kha mu (stewed pork trotter served with rice).

As ornamentals[edit]

The more decorative, but slightly less pungent chili, sometimes known as "Thai ornamental", has peppers that point upward on the plant, and range from green to yellow, orange, and then red. It is the basis for the hybrid cultivar "Numex twilight", essentially the same, but less pungent, and starting with purple fruit, creating a rainbow effect. These peppers can grow wild in places such as Saipan and Guam.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ DeWitt, D.; Bosland, P.W. (2009). The Complete Chile Pepper Book: A Gardener's Guide to Choosing, Growing, Preserving, and Cooking. Timber Press. ISBN 978-0-88192-920-1.
  2. ^ "The world's 10 hottest chillies". Australia Geographic. 2011-09-13.
  3. ^ Andrews, Jean (1995). "Historical Background". Peppers: the Domesticated Capsicums. Austin, Texas, USA: University of Texas Press. pp. 1–10.
  4. ^ Robinson, Simon (14 June 2007). "Chili Peppers: Global Warming". Time.
  5. ^ Joe Cummings (2000). Thailand. Lonely Planet. pp. 79–. ISBN 978-1-86450-026-4.
  6. ^ "Nam Pla Prik น้ำปลาพริก - The Ubiquitous Thai Table Sauce". SheSimmers. 2010-02-16.