Family: Anacardiaceae (Sumac Family)
Duration and Habit: Perennial Shrub
The Brazilian peppertree can grow to 30 or 40 feet in height with a trunk diameter of 3 feet. Responds to abrupt changes in its environment with heavy growth, acting as an opportunistic pioneer species (the first species to establish in a disturbed area). This broadleaf evergreen small tree or shrub is well-laden with intertwining, drooping branches and foliage. Stems are yellow-green. Leaves are alternate, pinnately compound, and dark green, with 3-13 leaflets, each 1-2 inches long. A turpentine or pepper fragrance is given off upon crushing the leaves. Flowers cluster in small groups and consist of 5 small, white petals with yellow centers. Fruit are small red berries, 1/8 to 1/4 inch in diameter.
Native Lookalikes: Currently no information available here yet, or there are no native Texas species that could be confused with Brazilian peppertree.
Ecological Threat: The Brazilian peppertree forms dense thickets, shading out native grasses, shrubs, and is actively taking over coastal plains in Texas coastal plains. Considered one of the greatest threats to native biodiversity for its dramatic affect on both plant and animal communities.
Biology & Spread: Plants can mature 3 years after germination and produce a large amount of seeds. Both male and female flowers bloom September through November; fruits December through February. Will also propagate at the base of the plant via adventitious buds (buds that develop in places other that at the end of a twig) sprouting from roots.
History: Sold and distributed in the 1800s in Florida as an ornamental; recognized as a nuisance weed in the 1950s. Sold as an ornamental in Texas. Its importation, sale, and distribution are now prohibited. Seeds can be transported by birds and mammals, and remain viable for up to two months. Invades disturbed areas such as fallow fields, ditches, drained wetlands, and roadsides. Now found throughout coastal areas of Texas. It has a high tolerance for shade and has shown tolerance the short freezing periods of coastal Texas.
U.S. Habitat: Invades disturbed areas such as fallow fields, ditches, drained wetlands, and roadsides. Now found throughout coastal areas of Texas. It has a high tolerance for shade and has shown tolerance the short freezing periods of coastal Texas.
U.S. Nativity: Introduced to U.S.
Native Origin: Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay (NatureServe Explorer)
U.S. Present: CA, FL, HI, PR, TX, VI
Distribution in Texas: Found in Florida, Texas, California, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Locally, established populations have been found on Galveston Island, in Dickinson, and on Virginia Point south of Texas City. Established along the Lower Texas Coast in areas near wildlife refuges around Port Aransas and Corpus Christi.
List All Observations of Schinus terebinthifolius reported by Citizen Scientists
As a recognized Texas Department of Ag Noxious Weed; the importation, sale, and distribution of Brazilian Peppertree are prohibited.
For established trees, apply an herbicide containing glyphosate or triclopyr to the cut stump immediately after cutting, or apply triclopyr with a penetrating oil to basal bark 0.75 feet from the ground. Use foliar applications of herbicide for seedlings.
The Texas Gulf Region CWMA is a voluntary network of public and private stakeholders that are concerned with the management of Brazilian peppertree.
The Quiet Invasion: A Guide to Invasive Plants of the Galveston Bay Area (www.galvbayinvasives.org). Lisa Gonzalez and Jeff DallaRosa. Houston Advanced Research Center, 2006.
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