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Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Peppers: 15 Things to Know

Whether it is your first pepper to grow at home or you are an experienced chili head, there are some basics to know before planting your first Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper. Since most nurseries do not carry sprouts of this pepper, you will need to grow the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper from scratch yourself.

The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper is one of the hottest peppers that a human being can eat. Measuring at over two million Scoville Heat Units, it is no wonder why this pepper made it to the list of the world’s hottest peppers.  It takes special care to even cook with one of these peppers, and you must use gloves when handling them.

Photo of many red Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Peppers
Photo by Eleni Seitanidou

What Does a Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper Look Like?

The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper looks like a rich, bright red small Bell pepper. The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper has an almost shiny appearance due to the oils that coat the pepper. They are only about two to three inches in length and anywhere from a half-inch to a full inch in diameter.

This pepper gets its name from how it presents itself. First, a larger round upper bulb-shaped capsule is connected to the stem. In addition, the Trinidad Moruga grows a tail-like bottom that extends out of the center of the bottom of the large pod, like a scorpion’s tail.   

The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper is also not smooth. Although it may feel soft to the touch, there are several indents in the pepper where it seems to sink in for a few millimeters all around the pepper, unlike the Bell pepper that is generally smooth around each section of the upper pods.

The scorpion pepper starts out green when it first starts growing on the stem, and like most peppers, it slowly turns into that rich red as it matures. You may even see some form of color progression from green to orange to yellow as the fruit fully matures.

The Trinidad Moruga plant and peppers have some striking appearances:

  • Wrinkled outer skin
  • Top like a Bell pepper
  • Tiny tail sticking out from the bottom of the chili
  • Small size: only one to two inches long, and half an inch in diameter
  • The plant can produce several pods if grown in the correct environment
  • Grows up to four feet tall in a five-gallon bucket
  • Dark green leaves

Where does the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper Come from?

Moruga is a small village located at the southern end of the Trinidad Island in South America. Wahid Ogeer of Trinidad cultivated this chili. Trinidad produces many chili pods, sometimes in the hundreds if conditions are right.

The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion is a perennial plant, which will grow year-round under the right conditions. The natural growing season for this chili is spring to winter, and the fruit produced in this region is plenty. This pepper grows best in mild to medium climates outdoors. It is best to raise the Trinidad Scorpion pepper indoors for the best results, especially if you live in a cooler climate.

Las Cruces, New Mexico, is home to some of the hottest peppers globally, or primarily well-grown peppers that tend to be on the higher end of their natural capsaicin levels. This is due to the horticultural programs available at New Mexico State Chili Pepper University in Las Cruces. As a result, they have found the perfect growing conditions for Trinidad Moruga.

The best zones for this pepper to grow in the U.S. are zones five through eleven, according to the USDA. The southwestern United States holds the best regions for growing the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. In addition, places like New Mexico and Texas have an almost perfect climate during the springtime.

What Does a Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Taste Like? How Hot is it?

The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper has a sweet, spicy taste to it. The fruity flavor is noticeable in the first taste of the chili. After that, tender sweetness fills your mouth, like a small amount of chili on a mango. Then, as you are about to enjoy the last bit of chili pepper, the heat starts to build in your mouth.

You might be thinking at this point that it is not that bad, but this is just the beginning of the fiery fury that is coming your way. You might think to yourself, “oh, it’s been a little while, the heat should start to dissipate,” but then it only gets hotter. Your face starts to burn, and you do not even know how, but it feels like your lungs are on fire.

The heat intensifies even more when you think “it can’t possibly get any hotter than this.” The power of two hundred Jalapeños is about to unleash its final fury on your tongue, and there is nothing you can do to stop it. So, embrace the heat and stay the course until the heat slowly starts to turn into a sweet, fiery aftertaste that is worth the experience you just had. However, if it is too much to handle, you can check out this post on the best ways to ease that Capsaicin burn.  

Can Eating a Trinidad Scorpion Pepper Kill You?

The Trinidad Moruga is the second hottest pepper in the world. Although it may be highly uncomfortable for 20 minutes or so, and it very well may take a few hours to recover fully, the Trinidad will not kill you. However, it will be slightly uncomfortable to eat the pepper whole.

The higher levels of capsaicin in the pepper have been known to burn through gloves. So, you do not want to eat the pepper in its raw form straight from the vine. Instead, you want to prepare this pepper in some dish that will distribute the heat.

The sweet fruit flavor of the pepper is quickly diminished by the growing heat level inside your mouth. The heat intensity level continues to get hotter after the pepper has been consumed.

Dr. Paul Bosland from the University of New Mexico conducted a study to determine how much capsaicin a person would need to consume to suffer enough damage to be fatal and discovered that a healthy  150 pound (68 kgs) person would need to consume about two and a half pounds of capsaicin to be fatal. 

Is it Safe to Eat a Trinidad Scorpion Pepper?

Technically it is completely non-lethal to eat any pepper, including the Trinidad Moruga. Although it tops the hotness charts measuring two million Scoville units, it will not kill you. However, if you are not an avid chili eater, it’s probably better to either avoid pepper this completely or at least work your way up to it with some other hot chilis.

Photo of red Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Peppers growing on the vine
Photo by Wirestock

How to Eat a Trinidad Scorpion Pepper?

This super-hot pepper is a delicious addition to a homemade barbeque sauce or other chili sauces. You could also dry some out and grind them into a powder for seasoning when cooking. The sweet flavor of the pepper is absorbed into the mixture, and it helps distribute the capsaicin a little better. The Trinidad Scorpion is estimated to be 230 times the heat of a standard Jalapeño.

Some of the most common culinary uses of the Trinidad Scorpion pepper are:

  • Chili beans
    • Chili sauce
    • Soups
    • Sauces
    • To add spice to all dishes

Which is Hotter: Trinidad Scorpion or the Ghost Pepper?

The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper is the second hottest pepper in the world, measuring over two million Scoville heat units, and is hotter than the Ghost pepper, which measures in at over one million Scoville heat units (SHUs). The Ghost pepper is the first pepper that measured over one million SHU’s and quickly held up to the world record.

The Ghost pepper received much notoriety in the press and media as being the hottest pepper. However, the marketing efforts behind companies to push their Ghost pepper products has drowned out other peppers, and as a result, many think that the Ghost pepper is the hottest in the world.

The Carolina Reaper is officially the hottest edible chili globally, and there is one variety of chili currently being used in cancer research called Dragon’s Breath. Unfortunately, the oil content in the chili is too high for any regular use; it is estimated that the chili if eaten, could cause self-asphyxiation.  

Dragon’s Breath (Medical Research Only)2.5 million SHUs
Carolina Reaper2.2 million SHUs
Trinidad Moruga Scorpion2.1 million SHUs
Seven pot Douglah1.8 million SHUs
Seven Pot Primo1.5 million SHUs
Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T Variety”1.5 million SHUs
Naga Viper1.3 million SHUs
Ghost Pepper1.1 million SHUs

How Long Does a Trinidad Scorpion Pepper Take to Grow?

The Trinidad Scorpion pepper takes two to three months to begin producing fruit. The process starts with germinating the seed. To germinate the seed, you want to ensure that you use a damp, but not overwatered, paper towel. This pepper is best grown indoors and needs about six to twelve hours of sunlight daily.

It is considered best practice to place the pepper on the windowsill of your home that receives at least 12 hours of sunlight.

The Trinidad Moruga pepper grows best in ranges from 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit (21-27 degrees Celsius). The peppers take about one to three weeks to start to sprout, and then they would be ready to transplant into soil.

The pepper needs to be in a medium-sized pot with your choice of potting soil mix. The soil needs to be kept wet but not soaked. The pepper should sprout from the soil in one to two weeks after transplanting it from the paper towel to the pot—the planting pots with drainage holes at the bottom work best for this plant.

How do you Store Trinidad Scorpion Peppers Once Harvested?

The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion can be stored on your kitchen counter for a few days. You can also place the peppers in the refrigerator, and they will last a few weeks. However, the best way to store these chilis is to leave them on the vine until you are ready to cook with them. You can also freeze these peppers or dry them out for cooking.

If you decide that you want to freeze your Trinidads, make sure you wash them first. You can freeze these chilis for months before use. You should use gloves when handling these chilis as the capsaicin levels are so high that they can burn your fingers.

Drying is the best way to store these peppers for long periods. They dry out quickly in a dehydrator. You can wash and slice them in half before placing them in the dehydrator at 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54 degrees Celsius). The Trinidad only takes about eight hours to dry out when using a dehydrator.

Smoking is another option and it only takes about four hours, if you have a smoker.

  • Place foil on the grill portion of your smoker
  • Use Hickory wood
  • Get a good smoke going
  • Add whole Trinidad Moruga chilis
  • Place them on the foil one to two inches apart
  • Check for the desired dryness level after four hours
  • Mix it in with some of your favorite spice blends

How Long do Trinidad Scorpion Peppers Last?

The fruits themselves will last a few days on the counter depending on the method you use to cure them; they can last a few months after picking the peppers from the plant if stored properly. They will last a few weeks wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator if stored unwashed.

The dried version of the chili pepper is the longest-lasting edible variety of the chili. Either smoked or dehydrated, the dried spice can last for years under the right conditions. You want to store the final dehydrated product already ground up into a powder. Provide a nice dry but cool storage area for your spices and chilis.

Sun-drying these chilis can be a fun experience if done correctly: you must hang them from a wire upside down in direct sunlight for a few days. This method allows all oils to draw themselves out of the chili, giving it an exceptional taste. You can eat the sun-dried chilis whole or grind them up into a dish for cooking. This method will yield a longer-lasting chili pod that will last a few months in a plastic bag.

The plant itself has an average lifespan of between two to six years. A Trinidad chili pod can last a few weeks on the stem without rotting. It is recommended to harvest all the fruit on the plant at the same time.

Photo of super hot peppers ripening on the vine

Is the Trinidad Scorpion Pepper a Hybrid Pepper?

The Trinidad Moruga is not a hybrid pepper, which means it was not bred from two separate peppers but grew naturally in Trinidad. The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper was discovered by South American Wahid Ogeer and has been studied since the year 1990 at the University of New Mexico State.

The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper is from the species Capsicum Chinense. This pepper species has an initial sweet aroma, but the longer you chew it, the hotter it gets. These unique peppers originate from the Americas. They pack a spicy punch and include other peppers with similar traits.

All the Guinness Book of World Record holders of hottest peppers belong to the Capsicum Chinense species of chili pepper. This descendent of the C. Annum chili peppers have produced some of the most flavorful chilis in the world. These plants are also perennials which means that they will grow year-round indoors.

Some of the more common chili pepper types in this species include:

  • 7-Pot chili (Trinidad)
  • 7-Pot cultivar
  • 7-Pot Primo (Louisiana)
  • 7-Pot cultivar
  • ‘Carolina Reaper’ (South Carolina)
  • Adjuma (Suriname)
  • Habanero chili (Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico)
  • Cabía gendol (Indonesia)
  • Ají Chombo (Panamá)
  • Ají dulce (Puerto Rico, Venezuela), a non spicy cultivar
  • Arriba Saia (Brazil)

How to Grow a Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper Plant? (Brief Growing Guide)

The Trinidad Scorpion is an easy plant to grow and takes about three to four months to fully mature and produce fruit. The start of the cycle begins with seed germination. To germinate the seeds, place a damp paper towel in a cup. Ensure that the water is not standing at the bottom of the cup; once the paper towel has soaked up the water, you can place the seeds on the paper towel.

Place a second damp paper towel over the top of the seeds and place them on the windowsill. Remember to keep checking for dampness in the paper towels to ensure germination occurs. Then, fill it with potting soil and fertilizer choice on the top layer in a separate cup.

Poke a half-inch hole in the topsoil to place the germinated seed inside and cover it up with the germinating stem pointing towards the top of the soil. It should sprout through within one to two weeks. Keep the soil damp and return the plant to the windowsill you chose to raise it on.

The Trinidad Moruga pepper grows best in direct sunlight with a temperature range from 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit (21-27 degrees Celsius). You can leave it in the sunlight for up to 12 hours a day if the inside temperature does not exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

How Long Does a Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper Seed Take to Germinate?

The Trinidad Scorpion pepper takes around 21 days to germinate. It could take longer in colder regions as it is a tropical plant. Keeping the seeds in between two moist paper towels and not letting them dry out will help ensure successful germination.

Another thing to look out for is standing water; even a little bit can slow down or halt the germination of the seeds entirely. On the other hand, do not leave the germinated seeds in the cup for too long either; if you see them start to sprout, move them immediately into a suitable pot.

The temperature also must be monitored during the germination process. These peppers are sensitive to cold conditions and must remain in a comfortably warm state to grow correctly. After germination is complete, transplant them into seedling pots until they have six true leaves on them. Afterward, they can be transplanted to their final growing place.

Remember to wear latex gloves when handling the seeds of the Trinidad Moruga. The level of capsaicin in the pepper has been known to create enough heat to burn the skin. If you do get it on your skin, wash with soap and water until the burning sensation disappears.

How Much Water Does a Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper Plant Need to Grow?

A moderate amount of water is needed to grow the Trinidad pepper with success. The soil should be damp but not have standing water at the bottom of the pot. Avoid waterlogging at all costs as it will cause root rot.

The Trinidad pepper also needs to be kept in moist soil for most of its life. Therefore, adequate water supply is one of the main factors to a healthy, bushy, and fruitful harvest. You also want to avoid wetting the leaves to stay clear of any plant diseases or leaf burn.

Pests can be another burden for your Trinidad chili pepper. Limiting the water content to just keeping the soil moist and growing it indoors can help alleviate the pest problem and help ensure a successful growing season.

How Much Sun Does a Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper Plant Need to Grow?

The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper needs a minimum of six hours of sunlight to grow properly. Although it can use up to 12 hours of daylight, it is recommended to provide afternoon shade when temperatures go above 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius).

If growing the Trinidad Scorpion indoors, finding a windowsill that is eastern facing would be ideal for the plant. This way, they should get the minimum amount of direct sunlight needed to feed the plant, but not too much sunlight, which burns the plant because of the heat. If your plant receives too much direct sunlight, it may not produce fruits correctly or produce at all.

If you choose to transplant the pepper plant outdoors, make sure you place it in a spot that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight but no more than twelve hours. For example, if you plant is on the eastern facing side of your yard or garden, then the sun’s natural movements will provide adequate sunlight.

Bonus: Where can you Find Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper?

The Scorpion pepper variety can be bought from private sellers across the U.S. Unfortunately, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper is not sold commercially. You can, however, find Trinidad peppers from various sources online. The seeds usually come in packets of a specific number for you to grow on your own.

Some private nurseries across the United States may sell you some seedlings if they have them available. However, most restaurants do not use Trinidad in any of their dishes unless it is a privately owned restaurant. Therefore, commercial growers are scarce.

Closing Thoughts

The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper is one of the hottest peppers available for consumption. The pepper has many culinary uses and even a sweet flavor to add to your dishes. In addition, the Trinidad Scorpion is fairly easy to grow and maintain and will produce plenty of fruit for up to six years. The steps for successful growth are simple enough. You should wear gloves when handling the pepper during the growing process.