Brazilian pepper tree

Brazilian pepper tree

Schinus terebinthifolius (Anacardiaceae)

Common Name:

Brazilian pepper tree

Scientific Name:

Schinus terebinthifolius (Anacardiaceae)

Alternative common names:

Brazilian holly, Christmas berry tree, pepper hedge, South American pepper (English); Brasiliaanse peperboom (Afrikaans)


An evergreen shrub or tree growing up to 6m high with wide-spreading, horizontal branches. The dark green leaves have prominent, pale veins above and are paler and smoother below, while the leaflets are more round. Small, creamy-white flowers appear from September to March. Male and female flowers develop on separate trees. Fruits are bright red, slightly fleshy, one-seeded spherical drupes and are poisonous. The sap is a skin irritant and affects the respiratory tract

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Brazil in South America

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

Existing legislation: CARA 2002 - Category 1 Proposed legislation: NEMBA - Category 1b KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Eastern Cape, 3 in rest of South Africa

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Eastern Cape

How does it spread?

Seeds are dispersed by birds and animals

Why is it a problem?

Competes with and has the potential to replace indigenous species. Poisonous and irritant. Indigenous birds could neglect the dispersal of indigenous plants as a consequence of their preference for the fruits of this alien species

What does it look like?

General description: A bushy evergreen tree or shrub reaching a height of 6m.
Leaves: Dark green and shiny leaves with prominent, pale veins above and paler and smoother below.
Flowers: Small creamy white flowers situated in tightly branched terminal clusters appearing from September to March.
Fruit/seeds: Fruits are bright red and fleshy spherical drupes containing one seed

Does the plant have any uses?

Ornament, shade, shelter, hedging; provides honey

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