Mystery Devil Pepper: Goats Weed or Black Cobra Pepper

Goats weed pepper or Black cobra chili pepper @whiteonrice

Story originally published in 2008. Update: We know the name of this crazy spicy pepper thanks to your comments and talking to the folks at our local nurseries! It’s called Goats weed pepper or Black Cobra Pepper. Here’s a link to this goats weed pepper description and another great one here.

Goats weed pepper or Black cobra chili pepper @whiteonrice

Don’t know what it’s called, exactly . But god, is it spicy hot. Mom calls it Ot Hiem (Dangerous pepper), we call it the Devil pepper and others say it’s a thai chili variety. Though it looks like the typical thai chili from a distance, it’s possesses at least 3 times the potency. It’s shorter and slightly fatter at the base then the thai chili and it’s most dangerous when it’s black (right before it starts to ripen to red). Defying gravity, the always shiny fruit grows upwards to the sky. The leaves of this devil pepper are short, round, dark green and full of small white hairs. When looking at the plant from a distance, the leaves look almost grayish around the edges because of the white hairs. It’s not even commonly found in Vietnamese stores. Only some Viet gardeners dare to nurture these evil specimens in their gardens and we’ve been able to occasionally find the plant at some random Viet grocery stores and sidewalk street vendors.

Goats weed pepper or Black cobra chili pepper @whiteonrice

It’s true to it’s given common name because it is spicier than any jalapeno, habanero, thai or any other chili we’ve had. It’s so spicy that our pepper loving fanatics have to take it slow when biting into these heathen chilies. We warned a certain individual (you know who you are) to wash his hands after handling the seeds of the devil pepper. He’s young vigorous man and thought he was impervious to any heat that chilies give off. Well, that was until he forgot to wash his hands thoroughly before he went to the bathroom. He was humbled to the fifth degree. End of story.

The allure of these devil peppers is not just because of it’s intense heat, but because of its remarkable flavor. The distinct, fragrant smell is still something we can’t describe, other than identifying it as the “devil pepper smell”. But when it’s crushed into sauces and dips, it’s special flavor makes everyone wonder what the secret ingredient is. Does anyone have the botanical name of this particular pepper species? We grow it, eat it and love it. But don’t know what the heck it’s real name is.

Goats weed pepper or Black cobra chili pepper @whiteonrice

Vietnamese Chili Salt Dip

Yield: 1/4 cup

Total Time: 1 hour


  • 2 Thai Chili or any red chili pepper
  • 3 table spoons sea salt
  • sprinkle of paprika (optional)


  1. Crush chili in a bowl . Add sea salt and continue crushing chili's until the juices are released into the salt. The more you crush, the more heat you add to the mixture, so beware! For a more smoky flavor sprinkle in some paprika. Let the chili juices dry out in the salt mixture for about 1 hour.
  2. Use as a dipping condiment for green mangoes or in any recipe to enhance it's salt and spicy flavors.
Recipe Source:

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Recipe Note for Salt: All recipes containing salt are based on kosher or sea salt amounts, not table salt. If using table salt, reduce the amount used to taste.


{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. Rene'

    Interestingly, I found this pepper at my local dollar store!! They sell small pots of herbs in the spring, and I was really intrigued by this one. I have TONS of peppers (all black right now), and it’s a little over 3′ tall. I have it in an Earthbox, thus why I think I got such an amazing result. My question – I realize this is an older post, but what other recipes besides the salt one above did you make with your black cobras? I’m assuming you could substitute these in any recipe that calls for Thai Chiles or Chile de Arbol (except perhaps cutting back on the amount given these are much spicier). Just interested to know if you found any other great uses! I plan to dehydrate some and make chili flakes, and I’m also going to try my hand at making pepper jelly!

    1. Todd & Diane

      Hi Rene, glad you found the plants! Yes, you can use this pepper in place of other chiles, but remember that it’s much more spicy than most so use it sparingly! If you absolutely can tolerate lots of spice/heat, then use it to what ever level you like!

  2. Dave Jansen

    Capsicum annuum ‘Goat’s weed’ (Goat Weed Pepper, Ớt Nhung),
    A special variety that can live for 20 or more years. The plant , up to 4 feet high, overwinters much better than other pepper plants. The pods grow erect on the plant, about 2 inches long. They ripen from green to black to a fluorescent red. Extremely hot! Its foliage is tight, and bears dark and mid olive green leaves with a pubescense-like silver fuzz on the stems and the under leaf. Its appearance is striking, particularly as the green, black and red fruits are present together all year round

  3. Dave Jansen

    Capisicum frutescens Ot Hhung is the latin name for your Argentinian Chili pepper traditionally called “goat’s weed” or “black cobra”.

  4. Alvin

    The Vietnamese name for it is ớt chỉ thiên, I don’t know the botanical name for it 🙁

    1. Ivan

      It is A birds eye or Chile de arbol, I can easily recognize because I have two. Plus Ot hiem is the birds eye by translation.

  5. Aaron Van Couwenberghe

    The common name for Ot Hiem with Vietnamese American cooks is tearjerker. However you will not find it for sale under this name, only ot hiem or Vietnamese chili.

    You will find reports of this pepper’s Scoville rating being anywhere from 30,000 to ten times that, but you’ll also find it missing from most Scoville scales for a reason. Being a somewhat diverse variety mostly wild and not subjected to much breeding, the heat intensity varies quite a lot from one garden to the next. And simply, it’s not much available in the US, where the Scoville scale originates.

    At least the cultivars of Dragon chili (spicy breed of the Thai chili) clock in at a pretty consistent 100,000 SHU. No US based nurseries seem to have picked up any cultivars of of Ot Hiem as far as I can tell, making it a bit of a project to start one of these plants. You have to use somewhat mysterious seed and the results will be varied. Basically getting a good specimen is a process involving lots of trial and error.

    I agree on flavor, certainly, but for now I’m growing Dragon; when I want Ot Hiem peppers I just buy them at the Asian market.

  6. Frank Pham

    Not Black Dragon or Goatweed! Devil Chilli is close translation. It’s actually labelled as “Ot Hiem – Demon F1” by EWS seeds company in Vietnam. It is a form of hybrid bird’s eye chilli, engineered for mass cultivation.

  7. Leticia

    I think that your mystery pepper could be the Chenzo Pepper. My next door neighbours grew them last year and we really enjoyed them and were also on the hunt for what the name was.

  8. David

    A friend of mine from Vietnam was growing these in her backyard, she called them Vietnamese chilli’s, I got a clipping of her and just planted it in a pot today, was curious about them, which bought me here, very good read thanks.
    I agree that there extremely hot, im growing a few other types of chilli including habernaros and the black chilli’s i got from my friend where definitely hotter then habernaros. looking forward to next season when ill have a big harvest of these little beauty’s 🙂

  9. Shannon

    I grow these… Black Cobra Peppers. AKA Goat’s Weed peppers. Native of Venezuela.

    The Black Cobra variety of Capsicum annuum are also called Goat’s Weed peppers. It is one of the only pepper plants of this species that has fuzzy leaves and stems. Also unique to this plant is the multi-colored peppers, green, black and red that shoot to the sky from the tips of the stems all at once.


    The three inch-long Black Cobra chile peppers grow straight up from the olive green leaves and stems, resembling fingers stretching up to the sky. The peppers ripen from green to black to fluorescent red. Black Cobra chile peppers only maintain their dark color for a few weeks. They are edible when black and are often harvested at this stage. The taste is spicy, though not nearly as spicy as a habanero. The black color gives way to a striking red color and with it an increase in spiciness. The heat has a range of 20,000 to 40,000 Scoville units


    Prepare Black Cobra chile peppers by removing the stem, slicing lengthwise through half the pod and remove the seeds. Chop the pepper and add to salsas or marinades for beef or chicken. Cook peppers with tomatillos, tomatoes and onions for a spicy sauce. These peppers get spicier the longer they are on the plant; once they turn red, they are much spicier.


    Black Cobra chili peppers are native to Venezuela. They grow best in a warm climate, where summers are hot for an extended period of time, helping the spicy flavor develop in the fruit. In addition to being an edible plant, the color of the fruit and its fuzzy silver leaves make for popular ornamental plants in amateur gardens.

  10. Suzy

    Not sure if you ever got an answer on your question as to the botanical name for these peppers…They are called Black Cobra or Goat’s Weed Peppers. I am a writer for Specialty Produce and am currently writing copy for their site on these little spicy peppers.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Thanks Suzy. We were lucky enough enough to have a couple other commenters give us the same info. Glad to see everyone is in agreement.

      1. Ivan

        It is just a variant of the birds eye, I have two plants of this type.

  11. Paul

    I use to have one of these plants. It died a while back though. All the peppers I got off of it that I have dryed out and cracked open to get the seeds out won’t grow. I’m starting to think it might be a hybrid of some sort considering how rare they are.

  12. nett

    TBH it look smore like a black cobra pepper to me. unless goats weed is an alternate name for the cobra pepper which got its name for the fact it stands upright on the plant and does pack quiet the punch.

    Black Cobra Pepper Images

    1. White on Rice Couple

      I believe they are different names for the same pepper. We forgot about that name until you brought it up again. Thanks!

  13. Andy Le

    The name of this hot pepper is “Goat’s weed” and it’s from Venezuela origin. I have grown many different kind of hot pepper, and I have to say that this pepper has the best flavor. This pepper is pretty hot, just one notch below habanero. But hot enough to make your head steaming.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      That’s it! Thank you so much. So glad to finally have a name to match up with one of our favorite chilies.

  14. robert

    Our cousin in Chicago, has been growing these peppers for years, and his dads dad. We never new the name untill now. Ot Heim (devil pepper). The perfect name for this pepper. We have been visit every year in Oct. for vacation and bring some home, because they put out so much, they have to give them away. Thanks everyone the research.

  15. John

    How tall are these plants? I’ve got some that look the same and quickly grow to 4′ to 6′ tall. They get top heavy from all the peppers. I started them about 4 years ago with a couple of small plants I just pulled from a friends side yard. We figured they were chile de arbol or serrano since that’s all they ever ate, and they never intentionally planted them. These are growing like crazy, I cutting the plants back. All of the other chilies I try to grow(habanero, serrano, Anahiem, Fresno) die quickly. My father in law tossed one of these peppers in his flower bed and it quickly grew past the eaves of his roof. He dug it up and gave it to his neighbor. They are way hotter than serranos and some of them have an odd taste, sort of like licorice. I am in San Dimas.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      These usually grow in the 2-3′ range, but it will vary with growing conditions. We’ve seen them maybe up to 4′ Not sure if these are the same as yours or not, but any super spicy pepper with great flavor is an excellent pepper! Sounds like you’ve got a winner!

  16. Insaney

    I could be wrong, but isn’t that variety of pepper commonly known as the African Bird’s Eye Pepper?

    It’s in the same Scoville range as the Habanero, though I’m unaware of which is hotter.

  17. Amy

    It is “Devil Peppers”… variations of them. Used a lot in Southeast Asia and there’s even an African type. Vietnamese people call it “Ot Hiem”, yep. They are the only peppers that grow upward. =] My dad gave me a tree and it’s taller than me. He grows a ton!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Sounds like you have the same chili and of course we call it ot hiem as well, notice it says that in the post, but we are looking for what the genus or common “white people” name for the chili may be. Thanks for sharing. Glad you guys enjoy them as much as us.

  18. Gary

    Was wondering the same thing as Mike…any idea on the name yet? Have a plant in the backyard that sounds exactly like this…and just took a bite out of one that was black and felt like my tongue was going to fall off. LOL. Any idea?

  19. Mike

    Did you ever figure out the name of this pepper? I’ve got a plant and it is as you described only the leaves are a light green and i’m dying to know what kind of pepper it is.

    1. Roberto

      My friend, This chili pepper is called “Black Dragon pepper” It is said that is originally from Vietnam. I started growing this peppers since 1992. A vietnamiese friend from work gave me a few of those devils and save the seeds and then started growing my own plants. I hope this info solved the mistery peppers.


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