AZ Arboretums

Schinus terebinthifolius

Brazilian PepperCommon: Brazilian pepper-tree, Christmas berry tree, Florida holly
Family: Anacarediaceae, Sumac family
Origin: Native to Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil
Zone: Hardy to Zone 9
Light: Full sun
Soil: Performs well in any soil type with drainage
Water: Salt tolerant. Rapid change of water level up or down causes some mortality.

Introduced in US in 1842-1849 as cultivated ornamental plant. Shade tree. Excellent choice for lawn or patio.

Of special interest to homeowners and landscapers because it grows very rapidly and acclimates easily to a wide variety of soils and moisture levels. Short trunk usually hidden by dense intertwining branches.

Grows to 30 feet tall. Stiff horizontal branches. Fast growing. Spreading foliage shape with a width of about thirty feet. Leaves have reddish, sometimes winged midrib. 3-13 finely toothed leaflets 1 to 2 inches long. Leaves smell of turpentine when crushed and are a glossy light green. 4-5 inch cone-shaped clusters of small white flowers at the end of the branches open in late summer. Fruits are in clusters and are glossy green and juicy at first, becoming bright red when ripening. The red skin dries to become a papery shell surrounding the seed. The seed is dark brown.

Berries cling through the winter, and appear just in time for Christmas (hence its occasional nickname: Florida holly).

Aggressive invader of natural habitats. Is considered an invasive nonindigenous weed pest in Florida. Blooming plant causes sneezing and asthma-like reactions in some people. Direct contact with exudate from the trunk causes severe itching, the lesions sometimes resembling second degree burns. Member of the same family as poison ivy.