My friend Madhu Khatti graciously allowed me to to audit his biogeography course a few months back. On his blog, he asks a wonderfully disarming question about peppers in this enjoyable essay. It reminds me of two things: that my alma mater (CSU Fresno) has a world-class expert on the genetics of Capsicum, and that, more than 150 years ago, Darwin began his long and meaningful correspondence with American botanist (and evangelical Christian) Asa Gray.

In a letter of July 8th, Gray had praised Darwin for experiments, published in the Gardener's Chronicle, that demonstrated the possibility that seeds might be carried some distance in salt water, yet still be able to germinate: a seminal (sorry) moment in the history of biogeography.

Then, on today's date (July 21st), some 152 years ago, Darwin replied with these details: "...Some of my immersed seeds have come up after 82 & 85 days immersion, viz Radishes Beet, Atriplex, Capsicum, Oats, Cucurbita, Rhubarb, Lettuce, Carrotts, Celery, & Onions."

I think that, in appreciation of Dr. Katti and Charles Darwin, that I will eat a pepper today!

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