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No, bumps at bottom of bell pepper not sign of ‘gender’

Could the number of bumps or lobes on a bell pepper indicate the sex of the fruit? A meme shared on Facebook in Nigeria claims so.

“Flip the bell peppers over to check their gender. The ones with 4 bumps are females and those with three bumps are male,” it reads beneath a photo of two peppers.

“The female pepper are full of seeds, but sweeter and better for eating raw and the males are better for cooking.”

Is this true? We checked. 

‘No such thing as bell pepper sexes’

According to the website PepperScale, the claim is “total fiction”. 

“There’s no such thing as bell pepper sexes,” it says.

The number of bumps or lobes on a bell pepper show “absolutely nothing in terms of sex”. And bell peppers can have anywhere between two and five lobes, not just three or four.

PepperScale adds that sweetness has “nothing to do with the number of lobes on your pepper”. 

“It has everything to do with your cultivated variety, the soil you’ve grown your peppers in, the weather, and, especially, how long you’ve left the fruits on the vine.” 

Fruit don’t sexually reproduce

In 2018, the UK Guardian also debunked the claim in an article headlined “Beware fake news, even in the garden”.

Claiming that a pepper had a “gender” would imply that “fruit sexually reproduce with each other”, which they don’t, columnist James Wong wrote.

“They are just a fleshy package that contains the end product of sexual reproduction, the seeds.”

Wong adds that the number of lobes at the base of a pepper “is determined largely by genetics, but growing conditions can have an impact, too”.

Green peppers not sweet

An accurate indication of the sweetness of a bell pepper is its colour. Green bell peppers are not sweet as they are “essentially an unripe fruit”, according to Culinary Lore. Green peppers gradually become yellow and finally red as they ripen. 

Sweetness “is usually a factor of ripeness”, according to Oregon State University, so red bell peppers are sweeter than green. – Taryn Willows


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