Broad-leaved Pepper Tree

Schinus terebinthifolius Raddi

Synonyms -

Family: Anacardiaceae


Other Names:

Brazilian Pepper
Japanese Pepper
Christmas-berry (Hawaii)


A tree or shrub with several trunks, 3-7.5 m tall. The pinnate leaves and leathery leaflets have a red to yellow midrib and smell like turpentine when crushed. Female plants produce clusters of small, bright red, 5 mm diameter berries at then ends of branches during winter. Male trees have many small cream flowers in late summer.




First leaves:


Alternate, Mid yellow to yellow green and often tinged with red.
75-150 mm long overall, pinnate with (3)7-11(13) leaflets. Leaflets paired except near the end. Main axis (rachis) has a small wing and is finely hairy. Exude a clear sap and smells of turpentine or pepper when damaged.
Stipules -
Petiole -
Blade - of leaflets; Dark green, leathery, oval to 25-80 mm long x 12-25 mm wide. The largest leaflet is the terminal leaflet. Leaflets stalkless. Tip pointed. Sides curved and may have tiny blunt teeth towards the tip. Base tapering. Hairless or nearly hairless. Upper surface shiny green with several straight side veins and the lower surface dull light green


Short trunk to 200 mm diameter, often gnarled, many branches, pink brown, with raised, small corky spots (lenticels). Branchlets not weeping, finely hairy when young. 3-7.5 m tall overall.
Bark grey, smooth or becoming furrowed into long flat ridges.
Sap aromatic smelling like turpentine and turning blackish on exposure to air.
Heavy red brown wood.

Flower head:

Flowers in clusters (panicles) 25-100 mm long, much branched and at the ends of branches at the base of upper leaves. When in fruit it looks like a bunch of tiny, spaced grapes.


White to cream, small, 3 mm long and wide. Male flowers deciduous.
Male and female trees.
Ovary - rounded. Style short. Dot like stigma.
Calyx -
Perianth -
Sepals -
Petals - 5, Cream to white
Stamens - 10 attached to a ring shaped disk with alternate stamens longer.
Anthers -


Green ripening to orange-red, globular, berry up to 5 mm diameter. Calyx at the base and dot like stigma at the tip of the fruit/. Aromatic resinous brown pulp. 1 seeded. Persist on female trees for about 3 months.


Elliptical, light brown, <3 mm long. Short lived.


Form suckers when damaged.

Key Characters:


Life cycle:

Evergreen perennial that flowers in late summer and female trees carry fruit over winter.
Trees produce fruit when they are 3 years old.



By seed, suckering and coppicing.
Male and female trees.

Flowering times:

Late summer in WA.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Seed appears to be short lived as few seedlings appear 2-3 years after control.

Vegetative Propagules:

Roots form suckers. Base re grows if cut.



Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread by water and birds and mammals that eat the seeds and berries. Thickets formed by suckering from the roots especially if they are disturbed. Long distance spread is usually by intentional planting or disposal of garden refuse.

Origin and History:

Native to Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina.
Introduced as an ornamental landscape tree.



Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.



Temperate to tropical.


Tolerates most soils. More common on sand over limestone or sand over laterite.
Prefers wetter areas.

Plant Associations:



Ornamental. Shelter. Common street tree.
Aromatic fruits are called Pink Peppercorns and used as gourmet food but may cause vomiting if quantities are consumed.
Honey plant. Firewood. Chipped for mulch.
Fruiting branches with red berries used for Christmas decorations in Hawaii.


An aggressive coloniser of disturbed areas such as roadsides, abandoned farms, wetlands, waterways and coastal dunes.
Forms thickets.
Harbours a disease that can kill Mangroves.
Serious weed of Pacific Islands including Norfolk Island.
Invasive weed of the USA.


May cause a skin irritation. It is related to Poison Ivy.
Fruits may cause vomiting if a quantity are eaten.
Contact with the sap may cause rashes, colic and haemorrhages of the eye.
Pollen may cause respiratory irritation, sneezing and headache.





Noxious weed of NSW, Qld.

Management and Control:

Seedlings and saplings can be removed by hand. Wear protective clothing to reduce skin contact with sap. Some people are quite sensitive.
Burning usually reduces the infestation.
Target female trees in control programs initially to reduce seed production and further spread.
Cutting trees usually results in vigorous re growth and suckering unless the stump is painted immediately with herbicide such as neat glyphosate or triclopyr.
Foliar spraying with 50 mL fluroxypyr200 in 10 L water in winter when the trees are in fruit is effective
Suckering may be delayed up to 18 months after felling.
Treat the area at least every 3 years to prevent saplings becoming old enough to produce seed.


Eradication strategies:

Apply a mixture of 20 mL or Access® or Garlon® or 40 mL fluroxypyr200 in 1 L diesel to a 30 cm band around the base of each stem. Pull or remove seedlings for several years or spray them with 50 mL fluroxypyr200 in 10 L water in winter when the trees are in fruit.

Herbicide resistance:

None reported.

Biological Control:

None available.

Related plants:

Pepper Tree (Schinus areira) is larger and has 17-35 much narrower leaflets and drooping branchlets.
Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) and Edible Mango (Mangifera indica) are in the same family.

Plants of similar appearance:

Tree of Heaven.


Bodkin, F. (1986). Encyclopaedia Botanica. (Angus and Robertson, Australia).

Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney).

Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Cousens, R.D., Dodd, J. and Lloyd, S.G. (1997). Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. (Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia). P82. Photo

Lazarides, M. and Cowley, K. and Hohnen, P. (1997). CSIRO handbook of Australian Weeds. (CSIRO, Melbourne). 893.3.

Paczkowska, G. and Chapman, A. (2000). The Western Australia flora: a descriptive catalogue. (Wildflower Society of Western Australia (Inc), the Western Australian Herbarium, CALM and the Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority). P145.

Randall, J.M. and Marinelli, J. (1996) Invasive Plants. (Brooklyn Botanic Gardens Inc. Brooklyn). P68. Photo.


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