Plant seeds are distributed by a number of ingenious methods, including wind, water, mammals and birds. Plants that rely upon these creatures to distribute their seeds often attract them with tasty fruit surrounding the seed. However, tasty fruit contains sugar and other substances that many other creatures also find inviting. Yes, the problem is, everybody likes sugar and that includes insects, molds and fungi, all of which are useless as seed distributors. Some plants make up for this problem by producing large amounts of fruit, just to ensure that some are reproduced.
It has long been said that “hot” chili peppers use spice to deter non-seed distributors from contaminating their fruit. Researchers have now confirmed this and report that the “hot” taste in these chili peppers comes from the amount and types of chemicals in them called capsaicinoids. They studied the Capsicum chili plants in Bolivia that have a range of capsaicinoids. A common fruit pest in this part of the world is a sap-sucking bug whose mouth parts commonly infest plants with a black fungus. Researchers surveyed infestations in different plant populations and analyzed the quantity of capsaicinoids they contain. Sure enough, the hotter peppers had measurably fewer black mold infestations than the more mild peppers.
In providing these plants with protection from pests, God has also provided us with useful and pleasant spices.