The habanero is a hot variety of chili pepper. Unripe habaneros are green, and they color as they mature. The most common color variants are orange and red, but the fruit may also be white, brown, yellow, green, or purple. Typically, a ripe habanero is 2–6 cm (0.8–2.4 in) long. Habanero chilis are very hot, rated 100,000–350,000 on the Scoville scale. The habanero's heat, flavor, and floral aroma make it a popular ingredient in hot sauces and other spicy foods.
The habanero chili comes from the Amazon, from which it was spread, reaching Mexico. A specimen of a domesticated habanero plant, dated 8,500 years old, was found at an archaeological site in Peru. An intact fruit of a small domesticated habanero, found in pre-ceramic levels in Guitarrero Cave in the Peruvian highlands, was dated to 6500 BC.
The habanero chili was disseminated by Spanish colonists to other areas of the world, to the point that 18th-century taxonomists mistook China for its place of origin and called it Capsicum Chinese ("the Chinese pepper").
Today, the largest producer is the Yucatan Peninsula, in Mexico. Habaneros are an integral part of Yucatecan food, accompanying most dishes, either in natural form or puree or salsa. Other modern producers include Belize, Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, and parts of the United States, including Texas, Idaho, and California.