• Brasiliaanse peperboom,
  • Brazilian holly,
  • Brazilian pepper tree,
  • Christmas berry tree,
  • pepper hedge,
  • South American pepper





Schinus terebinthifolia Raddi


Schinus terebinthifolia is an evergreen shrub or tree, up to 6 m high, with wide-spreading, horizontal branches. The new stems are hairy; the bark of older stems is very rough and ridged. The leaves are dark green, alternate, compound, odd-pinnate, with 2-8 pairs of leaflets, and prominent, pale veins above, paler and smoother below. The leaflets are glabrous, lanceolate, elliptical, 1.5-7.5 cm x 0.7-3.2 cm (the terminal leaflet is larger than the lateral ones) with a serrated margin. The inflorescences are large terminal panicles of small creamy flowers; male and female flowers develop on separate trees. Fruits are bright red, slightly fleshy, one-seeded spherical drupes and are poisonous. The sap is a skin irritant and affects the respiratory tract.


Similar to Schinus molle also from South America.


Tree or shrub, 3 to 7 m high, sith compound leaves and small red berries.


A taproot.


New stem shairy, while the bark of older stems is very rough, ridged.


Leaves alternate, compound, odd-pinnate, up to 40 cm long with 2-8 pairs of leaflets glabrous, lanceolate, elliptical, 1.5 to 7.5 cm long and 0.7 to 3.2 cm wide, with terminal leaflet greater than the lateral ones. The margin of leaflets serrated, glabrous.


Flowers arranged in large terminal panicles.


Small flowers, white, with oblong to oval petals 1 to 3 mm long. The plant is dioecious, male flowers and female flowers are on different individuals.


The fruits are berries, bright pink-red color, 5 mm in diameter, very numerous, containing only one seed.


S. terebinthifolia is a perennial plant. The flowers bloom from September to March. It multiplies by seeds dispersed by birds and by sprouting at the base of the trunk especially when wounded.


S. terebinthifolia tolerates shade and quickly became a strong competitor for local species.


Native to South America, S. terebinthifolia was widely disseminated by man because of its many uses (food, medicinal, alignment, windbreaks).


KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Eastern Cape. Alt 2-550m.


Like other species of the Anacardiaceae family, the pepper tree is toxic (contains terpenes and phenols). The leaves and fruits (used as a medicine and spice) are toxic in large doses, ingestion may be fatal to herbivores.
South Africa: ornament, shade, shelter, hedging; provides honey.


It is a strong competitor for local species. The tree may also have allelopathic properties with respect to other related species. It is often naturalized and belongs to the list of 100 of the most invasive species in the world of the IUCN list.


Existing legislation: CARA 2002 – Category 1 Proposed legislation: NEMBA – Category 1b KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Eastern Cape, 3 in rest of South Africa.
Competes with and has the potential to replace indigenous species. Poisonous and irritant. Indigenous birds could neglect the dispersal of indigenous plants as a consequence of their preference for the fruits of this alien species.


Seedlings and young shoots can be easily pulled up by hand to avoid the formation of large stands of adults whose eradication is much more difficult. One can also choose to remove the female individuals (an identifiable stage) to remove the seed source. Adult plants can't be controlled by only slashing because vegetative sprouts will grow and multiply the plant. It is essential to complete mechanical action with a herbicide application on the trunk after cutting, by painting herbicide on cut stump. Conventional herbicides such as triclopyr are effective.


-Blanfort V, Desmoulins F, Prosperi J, Le Bourgeois T, Guiglion R, Grard P (2010) AdvenPaC V.1.0 : Adventices et plantes à conflit d'intérêt des Pâturages de Nouvelle-Calédonie. IAC, Cirad, Montpellier, France,
-Global Invasive Species Database.
-Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T. & Ballings, P. (2013). Flora of Zimbabwe: Cultivated Plants: Species information: Schinus terebinthifolius.
-Invasive Species South Africa.


Vernacular Country Language Source
Brazilian holly English Bromilow C. 2010. Problem plants and alien weeds of South Africa. p.116
Christmas berry tree English Bromilow C. 2010. Problem plants and alien weeds of South Africa. p.116
pepper hedge English Bromilow C. 2010. Problem plants and alien weeds of South Africa. p.116
South American pepper English Bromilow C. 2010. Problem plants and alien weeds of South Africa. p.116
Brazilian pepper tree English Bromilow C. 2010. Problem plants and alien weeds of South Africa. p.116
Brasiliaanse peperboom Afrikaans Bromilow C. 2010. Problem plants and alien weeds of South Africa. p.116