When Columbus found America he was disappointed to discover that he had not also found black pepper (piper nigrum), a spice so common today that it is hard to ever believe that it was rare enough to risk your life in the pursuit of a new sailing route to it. Instead, he found chiles (capsicum), decided that was good enough, and rather than admit defeat, he named them "pepper."
Today, there are so many varieties of pepper that it practically takes a degree in botany to keep them all straight. In large part, this is thanks to the peppers themselves, who just love to cross-pollinate. It seems certain that, if you choose to keep tabs on such things, you will see a new variety of pepper come into existence. Make it into a local favorite, and you may even have the honor of naming the chile yourself.
The chile has grown in the last 400 years to be the world's most highly consumed spice, outstripping even the peppercorn that precipitated its accidental introduction. It is capsaicin that gives the chile its unmistakable heat. This molecule is most concentrated in the white pepper membranes, so be sure to remove these along with the seeds for a milder experience. To mellow the pepper still further, roasting is usually a good bet. Simply char the skin until blackened, and when the pepper is good and cool, remove the char and give the pepper a rinse.
It will come as no surprise to learn that traditional medicine uses chiles to warm the internal organs. Practically, this means that chiles are good at stimulating digestion, dispelling colds, and treating asthma. If you choose to pickle your peppers, you can keep them through the colder months. Add them to chicken soup for a truly traditional cold remedy.