Here we focus on benefits and costs of capsaicinoids, responsible for pungency or “heat” in chilies. We use a naturally occurring polymorphism for capsaicinoid production in a South American wild chili, Capsicum chacoense to examine the selection on pungency imposed by microbial, invertebrate, and vertebrate consumers before, during, and after dispersal. We show that the vast majority of pre-dispersal seed loss takes place due to Fusarium fungi. Fusarium exploits the foraging of Lygaeid seed bugs to gain access to seeds and fruit, and Fusarium attack of seeds causes large decreases in seed viability. Further, we show that the two primary capsaicinoids in wild chilies directly reduce Fusarium growth. Capsaicinoids thus provide chemical protection to fruit and seeds before dispersal. Yet this chemical protection appears to trade-off with physical protection of seeds: Pungent fruits contain seeds with thinner, more fragile seed coats. Thus seeds from pungent plants are more vulnerable to damage during dispersal, resulting in lost viability when retention times are long, and they are more vulnerable to seed predation after dispersal, as the primary predators prefer seeds with thin seed coats.