Schinus terebinthifolius – Brazilian Peppertree

Schinus terebinthifolius - Brazilian Peppertree, Christmas Berry, Brazilian Pepper, Brazilian Pepper-tree

Schinus terebinthifolius - Brazilian Peppertree, Christmas Berry, Brazilian Pepper, Brazilian Pepper-tree (flowers)

Schinus terebinthifolius - Brazilian Peppertree, Christmas Berry, Brazilian Pepper, Brazilian Pepper-tree (fruit)

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Schinus terebinthifolius

Common Names: Brazilian Peppertree, Christmas Berry, Brazilian Pepper, Brazilian Pepper-tree

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial, Evergreen

Growth Habit: Tree, Shrub

Hawaii Native Status: Introduced. This naturalized ornamental plant is native to South America, primarily Brazil.

Flower Color: White, but the flowers are so tiny that from a distance, they visually blend in with the green parts of the inflorescence and appear light greenish yellow.

Flowering Season: Summer, Fall

Height: To 30 feet (9.1 m) tall, but often less

Description: The flowers are tiny and have 5 petals and 5 sepals. The flowers are followed by showy masses of small, round, pink to red, one-seeded fruits. The leaves are hairless, dark green in color with lighter green veins, and pinnately compound with 5-11 (typically 7), oblong to elliptic leaflets.

Here in Hawaii, Brazilian Peppertree is an invasive weed in both mesic and wet sunny lowland areas where it crowds out native plants and releases allelopathic substances that inhibit their growth. Birds eat the fruits and are responsible for spreading the seeds.

Special Characteristics

Foul-smelling – The crushed leaves have a strong, peppery, resinous smell very much like black pepper mixed with turpentine.

Classification

Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Rosidae
Order: Sapindales
Family: Anacardiaceae – Sumac family
Genus: Schinus L. – peppertree
Species: Schinus terebinthifolius Raddi – Brazilian peppertree

More About This Plant

Hawaii County Distribution Map