The chili pepper is the fruit of the plants from the genus Capsicum, which are members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Chili peppers are considered fruit, not vegetables. Members of this family (nightshade) are related to tomatoes, cherries and eggplant. Many varieties of chili peppers exist, such as cayenne and jalapeño.
Chili peppers are primarily used as a spice and can be cooked or dried and powdered. Powdered, red chili peppers are known as paprika. Capsaicin is the main bioactive plant compound in chili peppers, responsible for their unique, pungent taste and many of their health benefits.