Uncertain due to early widespread cultivation, but probably peninsular Florida, the West Indies, southern Mexico, Central America and South America.
Map of select IRC data for peninsular Florida
IRC SOUTH FLORIDA Status:
SOUTH FLORIDA Occurrence:
SOUTH FLORIDA Native Status:
Assumed to be Native
SOUTH FLORIDA Cultivated Status:
Although we long considered this to be an exotic in South Florida, it may in fact be native to mainland peninsular Florida. The situation is complicated by the myriad taxonomic treatments of this, C. annuum, C. annuum var. glabriusculum and C. baccatum. Reports of C. frutescens from the Florida Keys, for instance, appear to be all misidentifications of C. annuum var. glabriusculum (e.g. Dickson s.n.
FTG). However, on the mainland at least one record from Miami-Dade County
and one record from Hendry County
appear to be correctly identified and possibly native. C. frutescens can be distinguished from C. annuum var. glabriusculum by its longer (1.5-2.5 cm vs. c. 1 cm) cone-shaped fruits, often borne in pairs.
For more images of C. frutescens, click on the Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants link below.
C. baccatum, misapplied.