Scorpion Pepper vs Ghost Pepper: What’s the Difference? 

Written by August Buck
Published: August 30, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/_jure
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If you are interested in learning more about hot pepper varieties, you may be wondering what all the differences are between the scorpion pepper vs ghost pepper. Both of these peppers have been on the list of record-breakers in terms of their heat and spiciness levels, but are they related to one another, and what traits can you pay attention to in order to tell them apart? 

In this article, we will compare and contrast ghost peppers and scorpion peppers so that you can fully understand how they are similar and different from each other. We will address the physical appearance of these plants as well as what they are typically used for. Let’s get started and talk all about scorpion peppers and ghost peppers now!

Comparing Scorpion Pepper vs Ghost Pepper

Scorpion Pepper vs Ghost Pepper
The ghost pepper looks more like a traditional pepper compared to the distinct shape of the scorpion pepper.

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Scorpion PepperGhost Pepper
Parent PeppersCapsicum chinenseCapsicum chinense × Capsicum frutescens
DescriptionWrinkled, bumpy, and distinct appearance, with a sharp stinger or point at the bottom of each pepper. Comes in a variety of colors, including red, yellow, orange, and black. Peppers are more stout compared to traditional peppers, and plants reach 3-4 feet tall on averageTraditional pepper appearance and size that comes in a variety of colors including red, orange, and black. Some varieties are bumpy, but most ghost peppers remain long, slender, and smooth. Plant grows up to 4 feet tall on average
UsesA popular variety or cultivar for creating extremely hot peppers. Used in cooking, but also used in hot sauce competitions and other spicy foodsPopular in a variety of cooking, including hot sauces, curries, and fish. Also used in pepper sprays and defense mechanisms
Origin and Growing PreferencesOriginally grown in the Caribbean; prefers full sun and warm temperatures, germinating an average timeOriginally grown in India; prefers full sun and average water, and germinates quickly
Scoville ScaleRoughly 300,000-1.2 millionRoughly 1 million

Key Differences Between Scorpion Pepper vs Ghost Pepper

Scorpion Pepper vs Ghost Pepper
Some ghost pepper varieties have bumpy or textured skin, but the scorpion pepper has a distinct texture more often than not.

iStock.com/Andreas Häuslbetz

There are a number of key differences between scorpion peppers and ghost peppers. For example, ghost peppers are a hybrid pepper plant from two different species, while scorpion peppers are a pepper variety from one specific species. The ghost pepper looks more like a traditional pepper compared to the distinct shape of the scorpion pepper. Finally, ghost peppers originated in India, while scorpion peppers originated in the Caribbean.

Let’s go over all of these differences in more detail now.

Scorpion Pepper vs Ghost Pepper: Classification

Given just how many pepper varieties there are, it can be extremely difficult to know how they are classified. It is important to note that the Scorpion pepper is a variety of pepper from the habanero pepper species, while the ghost pepper is a hybrid pepper from two different pepper species. Ghost peppers are created from the habanero pepper species and a wild chili pepper species, making it different scientifically from the scorpion pepper.

Scorpion Pepper vs Ghost Pepper: Description

Scorpion Pepper vs Ghost Pepper
Scorpion peppers have a distinct stinger or point at the bottom of each fruit, something that the ghost pepper does not have.

iStock.com/_jure

It can be difficult to tell pepper varieties apart at first, given how differently they grow and how many similar colors they come in. For example, the scorpion pepper and the ghost pepper come in many of the same colors, including red, orange, yellow, and black. However, the shape of both of these peppers makes them distinct from one another and will hopefully help you tell them apart. 

For example, one of the reasons the Scorpion pepper is named this is because of the way the pepper itself is shaped. Scorpion peppers have a distinct stinger or point at the bottom of each fruit, something that the ghost pepper does not have. In fact, ghost peppers have a more traditional pepper shape, and they are longer compared to the stout scorpion pepper overall. In addition, some ghost pepper varieties have bumpy or textured skin, but the scorpion pepper has a distinct texture more often than not. 

Scorpion Pepper vs Ghost Pepper: Uses

Scorpion Pepper vs Ghost Pepper
The scorpion pepper originated in the Caribbean and the ghost pepper originated in India. 

iStock.com/EvergreenPlanet

The ghost pepper and the scorpion pepper can be used interchangeably for a number of things, so long as you are comfortable with spicy food! Both of these pepper varieties are used culinarily to spice up dishes and add heat to recipes, often more than people anticipate. However, depending on the variety, some scorpion peppers are spicier than the ghost pepper overall, so use with caution. 

Scorpion Pepper vs Ghost Pepper: Origin and How to Grow

If you are interested in growing either of these two pepper varieties in your own backyard, the good news is, they have very similar needs to each other. While the ghost pepper plant tends to germinate faster than the scorpion pepper plant, both of these pepper varieties prefer full sun and warm weather. This is likely due to their locations of origin, with the scorpion pepper originating in the Caribbean and the ghost pepper originating in India. 

Scorpion Pepper vs Ghost Pepper: Scoville Scale

Scorpion Pepper vs Ghost Pepper
The ghost pepper is spicier than the scorpion pepper on average, but there are some varieties of scorpion pepper that are hotter overall.

iStock.com/WorldExotc21

The reason that most people choose to cook with both the Scorpion pepper and the ghost pepper is most definitely because they enjoy spicy foods. But which pepper is spicier than the other, and how spicy is this exactly? Well, the ghost pepper is spicier than the scorpion pepper on average, but there are some varieties of scorpion pepper that win in terms of their Scoville rating against the ghost pepper. 

For example, the average ghost pepper ranks roughly 1 million on the Scoville scale, while scorpion peppers range in heat, from 300000 to over 1.2 million on the Scoville scale. This is a huge range, and the spiciest scorpion pepper has to be the Carolina Reaper. However, more hybrid peppers are currently in development, as the world record holder for the spiciest pepper is always in flux!

scorpion pepper
The scorpion pepper has a number of varieties.
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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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Sources
  1. Heat profiles of ‘superhot’ and New Mexican type chile peppers (Capsicum spp.), Available here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304423821001953
  2. ‘Trinidad Moruga Scorpion’ Pepper is the World’s Hottest Measured Chile Pepper at More Than Two Million Scoville Heat Units, Available here: https://journals.ashs.org/horttech/view/journals/horttech/22/4/article-p534.xml