World's hottest pepper plants for sale

Photo of bhut jolokia fruit by Matt Rudge. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

David sent me an ad for bhut jolokia pepper plants, which have a Scoville rating of slightly more than one million. They cost $16 including shipping.

Also known as the ghost pepper, or dorset naga, it is listed in the Guiness Book of World Records as the world's hottest pepper.

To give you an idea of how hot this pepper is, here's an excerpt from an article I wrote a long time ago called "The Cult of Capsaicin."

Chileheads are hooked on high doses of capsaicin, gobbling up ultra-hot peppers and food smothered in blistering sauces like Cyanide DOA, Satan's Blood, and Toxic Waste. This stuff is almost unimaginably hot. You have to taste some to understand. Try this: put a couple of drops of Tabasco Sauce on your tongue. Hot, right? Tabasco Sauce rates between 2,500 and 5,000 on the Scoville scale, the standard measurement system for chile pepper heat. Now try a drop of Mad Dog Inferno, a ridiculously hot sauce that clocks in at 90,000 Scoville units. As I chewed ice cubes and blinked away tears after touching a miniscule droplet of Mad Dog Inferno to my tongue from the tip of a toothpick, I knew I'd never make it as a chilehead.

That's because I'm not a nontaster, explains Dave DeWitt, author of 30 books about chile peppers and spicy foods, including The Whole Chile Pepper Book and The Hot Sauce Bible. DeWitt is referring to a Yale surgeon's study in the 1970s that identified three types of people: nontasters, medium tasters, and supertasters. Nontasters are born with as few as 11 taste buds per square centimeter of tongue, while supertasters can have as many as 1,100 taste buds crammed into the same area. Capsaicin has no taste, but taste buds not only sense flavor, they also transmit pain and temperature signals to the brain. That's why nontasters can tolerate high doses of spice, says DeWitt, who considers chileheads to be on the far right side of the pepper bell curve. "In any movement you have your fringe element," he says.

For a chilehead, 90,000 Scovilles is pabulum. Andy Barnhart, a recently retired chief scientist for a telecommunications company in Maryland, likes to dump habanero powder (400,000 Scovilles) on his ice cream "until it turns almost black." But even that doesn't turn Barnhart's crank like it used to. "I've now gotten into Pure Cap; that is really hot stuff," says Barnhart, 61. "I blend it with a little alcohol to preserve it and I put it in a bottle with an eyedropper and I carry it around with me." (Pure Cap, a 570,000 Scoville unit extract, isn't the same as pure capsaicin, which, at 16 million Scovilles, is as hot as it gets.) If Barnhart comes across a bowl of soup or a drink that doesn't provide a sufficient jolt, he pulls out the eyedropper and gives it a squirt.

Ghost Pepper plants for sale


  1. Ok,

    So these people react differently when hot sauce hits their tongue? Is it the same way on the way out?

  2. I understand the UK bred Naga Viper is now the hottest Chilli at 1.3M Scovilles.

    The Ghost Pepper is now 3rd.

      1. The Viper is first at about 1.3 million, the Infinity Chilli is second at just over 1 million.

        Any reason all these top ones are from England?

    1. This is true however the Viper is an unstable hybrid and seeds will not be available for a while (if ever)

  3. The websites ordering process is terrible and intentionally misleading. After you place your order, your sent through a list of what appears to be their whole catalog in an attempt to get you to click the wrong option and wind up ordering more than you wanted and then gouging you on shipping.

  4. I dont know if i buy the whole “nontaster/supertaster” argument. Just because i love and can tolerate really spicy food does not mean that i dont experience the same pain that a “supertaster” has.

    1. I dont know if i buy the whole “nontaster/supertaster” argument. Just because i love and can tolerate really spicy food does not mean that i dont experience the same pain that a “supertaster” has.

      Oh, noes. Oppression by the gustatypicals.

  5. New Mexico State University’s Chile Pepper Institute- I only buy my pepper seeds from institutes. Anything else would be…

      1. Neil at Hippy Seed Company is a great guy. And he now hold the record for the Worlds Hottest Chilli (his seeds produced the new record-holder).

  6. I’m currently growing a couple of bhut jolokia as a little experiment. Living in the north of England, I wondered how well they’d fare but these plants are remarkably resilient and perfectly happy to grow on a window sill indoors during the winter.

    The fruits are fantastic – when they first begin to emerge from the bud you can see where the nickname of ghost chilli comes from due to the incredibly pale colour; a kind of light creamy lime tone. I highly recommend them to any aspiring chileheads – it’s well worth the cheap price of seeds and a lot of fun to grow!

    Kudos to this article’s author for conjuring up the subtle pun of “pepper bell curve”, hehe…

  7. I’m thinking that whatever you grow won’t have that heat level. Think about jalapenos—they used to be hot, now some of the change is due to selective breeding, but peppers also adapt to growth conditions and the drier and nastier the conditions, the hotter the pepper. A friend from Vietnam brought her native peppers to the states and was disappointed with how grassy and mild they were. I’m sure you’ll have some heat, but unless you live in Arizona then you might not get the full experience.

    1. You can get sufficiently hot jalapenos if you buy from an heirloom grower. Or just look for some Biker Billy seeds. The fruit is somewhere between cayanne and serano for heat.

      We talked about getting the ghost peppers last year and decided that habenero was hot enough for us.

  8. I’m got to be on the higher side of a medium taster. I like my wings medium, and only tolerate hot, anything higher and I don’t touch it.

    I never got the fascination with hot food. I want to actually be able to taste what I’m eating.

  9. I assume that a reason for some of the English prevalence is because the English are nationally obsessed with gardening, and hothouse gardening in particular. Another reason may be that thanks to near-east culinary influences, exceptionally spicy food is fairly well accepted there in higher numbers than the US has traditionally enjoyed.

    Anyway, to bring this back on target, I bought a bottle of Dave’s Gourmet (of Dave’s Insanity Sauce fame) Ghost Pepper sauce from cost plus not long back. It doesn’t list a Scoville rating on the bottle, but an online source had it pegged at 575,000. Dave’s website just says that it’s their hottest sauce, and is somewhat hotter than their Ultimate Insanity.

    It is really transcendentally spicy. 2-4 drops in a large bowl of Chinese soup makes it nearly inedible to average people, but delicious to me. 1/2 tsp or so in a bloody mary makes me see stars, in a good way. 2 bloody marys like that, and not only did I get a monster stomach-ache (which I am not prone to), but it was the first time in my life that it hurt to urinate, with an intense burning sensation through my entire urinary tract that took a couple hours to die down. It was a real experience, and the same thing has happened each time I have at least 2 bloody maries with a sufficient dosage in them. I have not–and will not–try it straight.

    I am completely fascinated by the mental side effects of consumption of this stuff, so I keep experimenting with it. Aside from the flavor and pain, with enough of a dose my head feels very floaty… a sense of euphoria. The closest thing I can relate it to is the feeling of just having escaped some terrible fate, or almost like a runner’s high. It’s very weird and very pleasant.

    I bought that bottle about a month ago, and I’m 3/4 of the way through it. I carry it around to experiment with. I went back to cost plus yesterday and bought 4 more bottles.

    1. I have that Dave’s sauce, it’s great in chili, never made my pee burn though it has given me a ring of fire on the backend. I also get very swim my headed from grey hot sauces. It’s very similar to an opiate high if you have experience with those sorts of thing.

  10. You’re right; I’m sure they won’t have the potency of their cousins in foreign climes. They’re not by any means weak, however…I’m not hardcore enough to eat them raw so they usually end up finely chopped and used as part of a dish.

    British cuisine may need all the help it can get but unfortunatly the bhut jolokia probably wouldn’t go particularly well with fish and chips, a sunday roast or full english breakfast ;-) I’ve stuck to eating them in what feels like more appropriate forms, such as fajitas or madras!

  11. I’m a classic-seeming non-taster, but I’m ALSO hypersensitive to capsicum – handling even whole, uncut, fresh jalapenos makes my fingers burn, so I just don’t put that sort of thing in my mouth.

    No reaction to bell peppers, so it’s not an allergy to the entire family.

    It’s frustrating and disappointing, and it annoys me that my pepper-loving friends totally out-macho me at The Light of India. But at least I can out-bitter and out-sour the best of them, and the lemon Warheads are all mine :)

  12. I ate a bite of one of these last year… Whew! I was a little inebriated, took a sizable nip with some kind of nonchalance. It was surprisingly crisp and juicy like an apple.
    I was immediately struck with what I had done, but knew I could only move forward, there was nothing to do but allow the heat to flow, no fighting it! It was no so much the pain but being overwhelmed with pressure – I could feel it in both ears, like steam. Cartoons are funny for a reason, I guess. It did make me think of Lisa Simpson When eating dinner made by Apu saying ‘I can see through time’.
    My friends looked a little shocked but I couldn’t really say anything yet. One of our guests obligingly took a bite too. She had a bad time of it. She looked like she’d been hit in the face immediately. Her eyes were red and streaming and she gave me a piteous look of betrayal, like I should have said it was really really really hot. The first I could say after a minute was ‘It’s a commitment’.
    Fortunately her boyfriend got some carrots from the fridge & doled them out, which helped cut the heat!

    We just planted seeds from that pepper a few days ago.

    TL;DR Carrots help cut the heat if you’re in need.

  13. I once read that eating a bhut jolokia is like, “pulling a cookie sheet out of the oven with your lips.”

    Also fun: watching capsaicin reaction videos on YouTube.

  14. The “World’s Hottest” now stands at over 1,463,700 SHU’s with the ButchT Trinidad Scorpion chilli. Results were released last week, and press-releases went out yesterday.

    The recent holder (Naga Viper) was a bit of a sore-point with chilli-heads as it wasn’t a stable strain (more of a mutant chilli) and the record can’t be replicated – the ButchT Scorpion however is stable and anyone can buy seeds and grow it. If they dare.

  15. Ate a couple of these in the final round of a heat-oriented chili-eating contest a couple of summers ago. They’re delicious as an ingredient in a condiment (I much prefer their flavour to that of habanero) but I’ll not eat them neat again.

    I didn’t win the contest, but I was the only sober person left by that stage ;) The guy who won ate six or seven, as I recall. I suspect he wasn’t back to partying in half an hour like I was…

  16. I don’t buy this chileheads-are-nontasters theory.

    Most spicy-lovin people I know have grown into it, appreciating and tolerating hotter and hotter items over the years. I do love very sugary tastes, very bitter tastes, very sour tastes, and very umami tastes, but not too much salt, and it’s not because I don’t taste the subtle flavors, but because I love experiencing food that makes my face change. Chileheads love the experience: besides the endorphin rush, there are delightful hidden flavors that emerge only if you can breathe through the pain. Habeneros, for example, have an unique sweetness underneath, while serranos are bitter. I don’t really know any supertasters, but I’ve noticed that the people who don’t like spicy food, don’t have any desire to experience the intensity of food in any of the five tastes. If their face puckers up from a lime or bitter-melon, they are unhappy — whereas I delight in that. (And what is Bitter Melon, btw? I’ve had it in an Indian restaurant — amazing.)

    And what about the dark meat versus white meat preference? Some (chilehead or chilephobic) love the taste of white meat, and think dark meat is bitter and less flavorful, whereas others are all into dark meat, and think white meat people are under mass-hypnosis.

    So yeah, take that Mr. 1970s-limited-worldview-surgeon. And keep at it Mr. Dewitt — just stop being such a pussy!

    1. There is a reason to not buy into the ‘chili heads are non tasters’, because its a crock of shit.

      I’m a chili head. I have eaten the ghost pepper straight up- with no hesitation. It is euphoria. capsicum alters my mood and makes me extremely happy.

      Most people who cry about hot food cant taste the difference a good cup of coffee and crap and appear to me to be unsophisticated in their culinary adventures. But this might just me being a snob.

  17. I participated in a hot sauce contest, once- 2 oz of a hot sauce (rated at 1,500,000 scovilles, so a bit hotter than these peppers) was added to a 48oz bottle of tomato juice. I took a few shots of the resultant mixture, and ran an obstacle course.

    I honestly didn’t feel much of the stuff in my mouth. My stomach, however, was a totally different matter. within 5 minutes of finishing, I was woozy and had to sit down. I got flushed and started sweating profusely shortly after that. Then I threw up and had this delicious mixture in my nose as well. I have to imagine it was like being deliberately pepper sprayed.

    So it wasn’t the taste or tastebuds that got me- it was my body just refusing to deal with that much capsicum.

    i “won” a bottle of the hot sauce as a result. one tiny drop of that stuff is enough to add a nice bit of warmth to a pot of chili, or a noticeable kick to a bowl.

    1. styrofoam, so when are you going to try some of those Merciless Pepper of Quetzalacatenango?
      (and how long till somebody actually names a strain of Chili after these)

  18. “Nontaster” – okay, now at last I understand why (how?) some people can dump five gallons of über hot sauce on food and claim it improves the flavor. Maybe that’s the only way they can taste it at all.

  19. I think the best thing about that trainwreck of a website is that it’s playing a great Colombian salsa track behind it: Joe Arroyo’s La Rebelión

  20. I am the classic supertaster, and I have a fairly low tolerance for hot food, although I seem to be able to habituate to it a bit if I have a few hotter meals.

    What impacts more, is that stuff tastes DIFFERENT to me! People usually have a hard time with this concept, especially when it comes from a child. Broccoli is bitter to me, so are most green vegetables. Juices that you would call mildly sour are almost unbearable sometimes. I never liked a lot of fruits as a child, as they either tasted very bitter, or very sour.

    Unfortunately most people think that taste is absolute (despite plenty of evidence to the contrary) – if it tastes good to them, then it is “good tasting” and everyone ought to love it. It is not willfulness, or being spoiled as a child, or some kind of self centered behavior; I, and the people like me, really don’t like the taste of some stuff that other people like! Strawberries were inedible to me until I was well into my thirties, and even now, years later are only somewhat edible.

    I supposes there must be some compensations. Maybe I have a tremendously subtle sense of taste, and can enjoy things in a way that others can’t. I don’t really think so, I just have a much more limited array of stuff I like to eat. I also have gotten good at eating vegetables quickly to get rid of them before I eat the rest of my meal.

  21. I can’t handle even ‘medium’ heat foods. I need everything to be mild. One nibble of jalapenos is enough to make my eyes water and my stomach turn over.

    I don’t know if I’m a supertaster or not… I love sour candy and can handle the super sour stuff.

    My problem with hot foods is that the pain is so unbearable, I can’t taste anything. It’s as if my tastebuds have been seared off.

  22. Tabasco sauce is hot? I have to use so much of that stuff in order to get any decent heat that the vinegar ruins the taste of the food.

  23. The reason chili-heads go after super-hot sauces is for the endorphin reaction. Don’t believe ’em when they say anything different.

    While Bhut Jolokia chiles at a million-plus Scovilles might be quite a novelty, it’s the Scotch Bonnet and milder chiles that have real flavor.

  24. I didn’t see any coyotes- I was too busy crying.

    I actually wandered away from the crowd and started suffering on my own. A friend came over and started to shepherd me through what I honestly started thinking of as a bad trip.

    No vivid hallucinations, but somebody to talk me down was much appreciated.

      1. How gobsmacked were you by the number of hospitals/ERs calling in for advice in one night!

        A hospital called in bc a nurse gave a patient 100 units of insulin rather than 10?!?!?!

        What was the advice? Call the next of kin?

  25. Not sure where I’d fall. Some things make me break a sweat, but don’t out right phase me, and I can taste the range of flavour in differnt peppers. Love the spice & tastes. At work I always spike anything I leave in the breakroom fridge, to dissuade people from munching on my food. Got a kid good one day with a bottle of ranch for my salad, I cut with 2 or 3 pureed habaneros. I probably would have felt bad about the kid nearly vomiting, except the bottle had my name on it and “Don’t nick!” in large block letters.

  26. I’m pretty sure that you’ve got the taxonomy of these cultivars wrong. The Bhut jolokia and Naga jolokia are superbly hot landrace chillies from Bangladesh. Bhut Jolokia means ghost pepper/chilli, Naga Jolokia means Snake pepper. In bangladeshi cuisine these chillies are usually added whole to dishes during cooking and fished out prior to serving or they are sliced exceptionally finely and eaten between dishes as a form of palate cleanser.

    The dorset naga on the other hand is a (newish) cultivar bred by the Dorset Chilli farm in the west of England, UK. Although bred from the Bhut Jolokia it is it’s own stable strain

  27. If you want to keep bears and other critters away from your trash, fill a small baloon with the hottest sauce you can find, and smear bacon grease on the outside and place it where its easy to get.

  28. Ghost Chillies are nothing to scoff at, and I am flat-out serious. I ate a dried one whole, without any milk/cream/etc to cool me off, in May 2010 and made a Note on Facebook describing my experience, with such quotes as:

    “.. and before I could get it closer than 2 feet to my mouth, my nostrils flared red hot just from the odor alone.”

    “The initial sensation was fire, but that doesn’t really explain it well enough. It was like fire had turned into a fractal, it was so hot. There was fire, then it got hotter, and then hotter again, then even hotter than that, then searing hot fire, then that fire caught on fire, and the fire on the fire caught on fire, and then spiraled into another dimension of spicy than I had ever even comprehended was possible.”

    “I’m not sure I would ever do it again, though in the moment of the repercussions I was emphatically muttering WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS I THINKING and even began to sing songs to myself as a coping mechanism, like turning We Built This City into I Bit This Chili.”

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