Peppers are native to Mexico, Central America, and northern portions of South America. Peppers have been used in these regions as a culinary spice for nearly 6,000 years. Columbus brought peppers back to Europe where they quickly became popular and spread throughout the world. Peppers can be divided into a number of different groups or types based on pungency, flavor, culinary use, fruit shape, and color. The chart below contains several of the most common types and their fruit characteristics.