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SCHINUS molle

Image of Schinus molle

Forest & Kim Starr

Family

Anacardiaceae

Botanical Name

SCHINUS molle

Plant Common Name

Peppertree

General Description

Producing pendent, stringed clusters of rosy-pink berries that can be eaten like peppercorns, the peppertree also has fine-textured leaves. An evergreen tree with a weeping and spreading canopy, it is native to the drier highlands of interior South America, in Peru and Bolivia. The young bark is smooth and gray, but with age becomes a papery to corky beige.

The peppery-scented leaves are long and linear, resembling those of a fern. Each leaf is made up of 19-41 narrow, short and glossy leaflets that are medium to dark-green. From late winter to summer, long, pendent, strands of tiny, yellow-white flowers appear in the tree's canopy. This species is dioecious—a tree produces all-male or all-female flowers. The female tree yield the pretty, rosy-pink fruits, which fortunately do not germinate in profusion after they fall to the ground.

Grow peppertree in full to partial sun and soil that is moist but well-drained. It handles drought, but should be irrigated for best growth, bloom and fruiting. Tolerant of reflective heat from nearby buildings or hardscapes, this tree is a welcome provider of shade. It tolerates light freezes, but in brutal cold may be killed either to the ground or entirely. It may also be used as a windbreak or screen.

The pink fruits of peppertree are dried and used as a substitute for the more pricey black peppercorn, or are combined with other colored peppercorns for a more culinary blend of flavors.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 8

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 11

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    30'-70' / 9.1m - 21.3m (45)

  • Width

    15'-35' / 4.6m - 10.7m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring, Late Spring, Late Winter

  • Native To

    South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Pollution, Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Weeping

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Light Yellow

  • Fruit Color

    Pink, Rose

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Tan, Sandy Brown, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    Yes

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Corky

  • Usage

    Edible, Feature Plant, Rock Garden / Wall, Screening / Wind Break, Shade Trees, Street Trees

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No