How did this rumor even get started in the first place? If you've ever heard that bell pepper genders are a thing, just know: you were lied to. Your bell pepper does not actually have a gender, in spite of a popular internet rumor that continues to persist to this day.
Can Bell Peppers Be Male or Female?
No. For whatever reason, the idea that bell pepper plants can produce either male bell peppers or female bell peppers pops up every now and again, but the misinformation is just not true.
The idea of pepper fruits having a gender has piqued the interest of the Internet more recently thanks to social media sites like Pinterest, Snopes reports. "A bell pepper's sex cannot be determined by the number of bumps on its outer surface," the site notes.
A pomologist with UC Riverside, David Karp, told KCRW in 2013, "The supposition that there are male and female peppers is a common canard, but untrue. Peppers grow from flowers that have both male and female parts. The fruits do not have a gender."
The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences also reported on the rumor in 2019. Responding to a Facebook post that male bell peppers have three bumps on the bottom of the fruit and are better for cooking, a blog post reiterated that, while there is no such thing as a bell pepper with a gender:
Bell peppers grow from flowers that have both male and female parts...the fruits of a pepper plant each contain ovaries that produce the seeds inside the peppers...the seeds are formed in each pepper after pollination, with those seeds then able to form new pepper plants.
It doesn't matter if you have green bell peppers, red bell peppers, sweet peppers, etc.: these popular veggies that are part of the Nightshade family simply don't have a gender. If you go to your grocery store and look for a specific gender of pepper based on the number of lobes, you're just not going to be successful. Just grab whatever pepper looks the ripest or fits your recipe best!