Pepper Tree | California Pepper Tree – Schinus molle

Pepper Tree

, Schinus molle, also known as California Pepper Tree is a fast growing, evergreen, fruit bearing tree of tropical appearance that grows to 15 meters tall and up to 10 meters wide. It is a hardy tree to about -5°C, indigenous to the Peruvian Andean deserts and the Northern South American arid zones. However, Schinus molle has been established around the world where it has been naturalized as an decorative attractive shade tree and for spice production.


Pepper Tree is a member of the family Anacardiaceae the genus Schinus. The plant can grow in to a single or multi-stemmed tree, beautiful and with a moderately weeping form. It produces fruit that taste and smell like pepper, Piper nigrum, although not related. The bright pink color fruit is frequently sold as “pink peppercorns”.

Leaves of the Schinus molle are pinnately compound, elongate, dark green and measure 8-25 cm long and 4-9 cm wide made up of 19-41 alternate leaflets 2.5 long. Leaves contain fragrant oils and are used to flavor meats. Male and female flowers occur on separate plants.

Flowers are small, whitish borne abundantly in panicles at the ends of the drooping branches. The aromatic bark, when crushed, is rough, grayish, twisted and drips sap.

Pepper Tree Fruit

The fruit of the Pepper Tree are 5-7 mm diameter spherical drupes with woody seeds that bend from green to red, pink or purplish carried in thick bundles of hundreds of berries that can be present year-round. They are frequently blended with commercial black pepper, Piper nigrum.

Pepper Tree Propagation Methods

Tree propagation is by seed and suckers. Seeds have an especially tough they germinate in springtime, with seedlings slow growing until established. The fruit and leaves of the plant should not be fed to animals, possibly poisonous, such as poultry, pigs and possibly calves.

Schinus molle, Pepper Tree

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