Schinus molle L., Sp. Pl. 388 1753. (syn. Schinus angustifolia Sessé & Moc.; Schinus bituminosus Salisb.; Schinus huigan Molina; Schinus molle var. argentifolius Marchand; Schinus molle var. huigan (Molina) Marchand; Schinus molle var. huyngan (Molina) March.; Schinus molle var. molle ; Schinus occidentalis Sessé & Moc.);
Peruvian pepper (Schinus molle, also known as American pepper, Peruvian peppertree, escobilla, false pepper, molle del Peru, pepper tree, peppercorn tree, Californian pepper tree, pirul and Peruvian mastic) is an evergreen tree that grows to 15 meters (50 feet). It is native to the Peruvian Andes. The bright pink fruits of Schinus molle are often sold as “pink peppercorns” although S. molle is unrelated to true pepper (Piper nigrum).
Schinus molle is a quick growing evergreen tree that grows to 15 meters (50 feet) tall and 5–10 meters (16–33 feet) wide. It is the largest of all Schinus species and potentially the longest lived. The upper branches of the tree tend to droop. The tree’s pinnately compound leaves measure 8–25 cm long × 4–9 cm wide and are made up of 19-41 alternate leaflets. Male and female flowers occur on separate plants (dioecious). Flowers are small, white and borne profusely in panicles at the ends of the drooping branches. The fruit are 5–7 mm diameter round drupes with woody seeds that turn from green to red, pink or purplish, carried in dense clusters of hundreds of berries that can be present year-round. The rough grayish bark is twisted and drips sap. The bark, leaves and berries are aromatic when crushed.
S. molle is native to the arid zone of Northern South America and Peru’s Andean deserts, and goes to Central Argentina and Central Chile. It has, however, become widely naturalized around the world where it has been planted as an ornamental and for spice production. S. molle is a drought tolerant, long-lived, hardy evergreen species that has become a serious invasive weed internationally.
Although not related to commercial pepper (Piper nigrum) the pink/red berries are sold as pink peppercorns and often blended with commercial pepper. The fruit and leaves are, however, potentially poisonous to poultry, pigs and possibly calves. Records also exist of young children who have experienced vomiting and diarrhea after eating the fruit.
Extracts of S. molle have been used as a flavor in drinks and syrups.
In traditional medicine, S. molle was used in treating a variety of wounds and infections due to its antibacterial and antiseptic properties. It has also been used as an antidepressant and diuretic, and for toothache, rheumatism and menstrual disorders, with recent studies in mice providing possible support for its antidepressant effects. It has also been speculated that S. molle’s insecticidal properties make it a good candidate for use as an alternative to synthetic chemicals in pest control.
The leaves are also used for the natural dyeing of textiles in the Andean region. This practice dates back to pre-Columbian times.
(From Wikipedia on 27.10.14)
Schinus molle from Fremont on 28th Sept,14.
Yes … Nice photographs
Plants From Australia 2018:: Schinus molle from Victoria-NS August 01 : 10 posts by 4 authors. Attachments (5)
This is a successful invasive in Australia..
pics recorded from Kurunjang, Victoria, June 2018
yes and its “invasive” in tropical areas becuase it continuously produces seeds, which sprout when conditions are favorable.
and UC Riverside prof Howard described it way back when as having Phenotypic plasticity which helps it accommodate itself to warm dry climate too.
((IT WAS ALWAYS BROUGHT IN DELIBERATELY AS in USA and Australia that i know of as A STREET TREE OR GARDEN TREE BECAUSE OF ITS GRACEFUL LEAVES AND RED BERRIES by all countries that are moaning about it. I think its height of absurdity to now call it a weed and to put it on a 100 worst weed list by a semi-commercial site from england)).
Nearby to Riverside is President Nixon’s home, according to their docents, in his ancestral home garden is about 100 years old Schinus Molle. I photographed in 2007.
They said its well cared for, grass grows underneath its drip-line and has not invaded any structures on the property.
Since then I have discovered at least a 100 in the same vicinity.
most seem to be deliberately planted by street authorities or Parks department in Southern California.
I love these graceful breezy green foliage that seems to want to drape delicately, slight wind /breeze makes the leaves flutter gracefully and the red berries are a delight..
But when the pollen come out, watch out for nasal allergies .
I have seen this tree (lonely) in University Campus, Mysore when I was a student. Now it is extinct. If I am right the tree has a peculiar adour. Does it ?
yes … it exudes a series of tiny droplets of amber colored resin, sometimes a whitish one esp in dry southern california air, sticky and it does have a aroma like pine. I had nice pictures of it, but hard disk here ate them and can not be salvaged three years worth of about 20,000 pictures are gone.
and the resin is of medicinal importance. its active against many bacteria, including Staph aureus and Bacillus subtilis (the last two are in this pdf above). there are many papers on the internet.
sorry the tree in mysore died. (it did not go extinct though), there are thousands of them all over the world and most of these countries are trying to eradicate them. there are continuing research on antidepressant and anticancer and even anti-tick chemicals in both “weedy” schinus trees, and a cynical comment is that as soon as a patent is filed by any one country, these trees will cease to be weeds to be eradicated, mark my word.
Thanks … for the valuable information. Now I can recollect my P.G. student days when I identified this plant and experienced the smell and all the observations you have mentioned. I remember to have seen this plant later in USA as well but forgotten where?
you most likely saw it in sothern California or isolated areas of texas or many places in Florida.
Plants From Australia 2018:: Schinus molle-NS April 2020-17 :
6 posts by 5 authors. Attachments (5).
This tree was found along roadsides, at many places around Melbourne….
Beautiful photos. There were a few trees species behind the University. I have seen them when I was a student. But now they are extinct. The plant smell is unique.