Paprika, and its superior twin smoked paprika, is in everything from paella to paprika tea, so you'd think most people would have a rough idea of what it is. However, you'd be wrong, if several recent Internet revelations are anything to go by.
In a recent post by Australian food company nutraorganics, they explained to their audience that paprika is not its own special plant, but regular peppers which have been dried. Just like when this was posted to Twitter back in January, people had their minds blown, though it's not clear what they believed paprika was beforehand.
As the posts say, paprika is made from crushed up sweet and mild peppers. Spicier peppers were brought to Europe by early Spanish explorers of the Americas. Over time, the Europeans bred milder and milder versions of the plant, bringing out a much sweeter flavor.
Peppers used for paprika – despite similarities in terms of sweetness and lack of spice, and belonging to the same family – are longer and thinner than bell peppers sold in the US. Hotter versions of paprika include chili peppers as well as the sweeter varieties of peppers, but in Hungary – where it has become the national spice – the sweet version is mainly used.
In short, it doesn't have its own tree, as that tree is already used for perfectly ordinary peppers.