I've seen claimed that whether a pepper has 3 lobes or bumps at the bottom or 4 can indicate whether that bell pepper is "sweeter, and better for eating, or firmer, and better for cooking". I've seen this repeated a couple of times on Facebook, as well as on a couple of different cooking blogs.

I've also seen the claim that the number of lobes indicates the gender of the pepper, and that male peppers have 3 bumps, and are seedless. The claim was repeated on July 5, 2013 on the Foodies TV Facebook Page which has 500,000 likes.

Bell pepper bumps

Is there any truth to this claim? Does the number of lobes provide a clear indication of flavor, firmness, gender, or number of seeds inside?

  • 1
    To add notability: I have heard the claim with regard to jalepeños as well; the claim (if memory serves) is that more lobes = hotter pepper.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Mar 25, 2013 at 18:04
  • This question reminds me of this one. A pepper is a fruit, it contains seeds, it grows from the female part of the plant. Commented Mar 25, 2013 at 22:14
  • 3
    Doesn't answer the question, but the way to get a sweeter green pepper is to choose a red one - red peppers are green peppers that have been allowed to mature.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Mar 25, 2013 at 23:47
  • This question is… interesting… but seems pretty far fetched lol
    – Alexander
    Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 5:51
  • 2
    Just saw this on facebook too. I think Larian shared it.
    – JasonR
    Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 12:40

1 Answer 1


I did share this on facebook, and got some interesting replies. In particular, this paper: Genetic Variability and Character Association Analysis in Bell Pepper. (I tried to copy some text, but every letter has a carriage return...)

Long story short bell pepper lobe number doesn't affect taste, but positively correlates with number of branches of plant and length of the harvest (i.e. the more branches or the longer the harvest period, the more the lobes). That's about it. Feel free to buy any shaped bell peppers you want. :)

Keep in mind, fruit are not the gender determinant of plants, it's the flower that is gender specific. Self pollinating plants have "perfect flowers" meaning they contain both male and female reproductive organs. Such as oranges. The fruit are basically the "fertilized egg" if we want to carry the analogy forward.

By the way, the page that I saw this make the rounds on is called "Whole Lifestyle Nutrition", and it bears many hallmarks of woo woo and sloppy repeating of someone's cousin's best friend's brother said. My baloney detection kit almost overloaded when I visited the page.

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