We have been growing the Naga Viper for a few years now. It is mid March and this year’s starts are about six inches tall. While transplanting today, I took a break and gave the naga viper a google. Most of what I found was from around the time the naga viper briefly held the Guinness World Record for the hottest pepper in the world in 2011.
The Naga Chili Challenge was one of those articles. Much like today’s Carolina Reaper (aka HP22B and HP22BNH) Challenges and the Ghost Pepper Challenges from before the Naga Viper, the Naga Viper challenges were all the rage when Guinness gave it the title. Then, almost as suddenly as their Guinness title was topped, it seemed to wink out of existence.
Although a few dedicated growers continue to attempt to stabilize the pepper threw selective seed saving, may feel it simply can not be done. Reportedly, it is inherently unstable due to the peppers which were crossed for its creation: The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, Ghost Pepper, and Naga Morich. I think that is the fun of growing peppers and seed saving. You get to be part of the refinement of various peppers.
Now in our third year of selectively saving seeds, always choosing the most accurate pods to save, I think we’ve improved on our original seed stock. In that, I do take some pride as many folk have observed that they rarely see photos of the Naga Viper peppers that look alike. Often I have read the claim that pods from the same plant often look differently. I have not observed such a plant, but I have noted that three years ago the variety on different plants was much wider than it has been with each generation.
By growing and selectively saving seeds for following generations, a person can not only participate in stabelizing the particular pepper, one might take a different path moving away from the original intent and towards a particular strain that might be different from the original description. This is how we have peppers like the Trinidad Butch T. Scorpion pepper without cross pollination.
Add a bit of cross pollination and who knows what a person can come up with. In fact, some fairly credible references state the Carolina Reaper was created by crossing the unstable Naga Viper with a Habanero pepper.
So while some folk want to avoid the Naga Viper because they feel it is unstable, I think that is half the fun. I look forward to seeing this rather unique and rare pepper return to popularity.