Brazilian Pepper Tree
Christmas berry or Pepper tree
Anacardiaceae - Schinus terebinthifolius

What does it look like?

Brazilian pepper tree is an evergreen bushy tree growing 3-7m tall.  The short trunk is usually hidden in a dense head of contorted, intertwining branches with leathery fern-like leaves.  The crushed leaves produce a pungent smell that has been described as peppery or turpentine-like.  Leaves are arranged in pairs with a single, terminal leaflet, usually comprised of 4 or 6, sometimes more. Small, white flowers on the female trees are followed by bright red fruit, 4-6mm across. Brazilian pepper tree can be found in disturbed and undisturbed areas, wetlands and water body margins; they grow in a range of light levels, but growth increases in full sunlight.

Why is it a problem?

Brazilian pepper trees can grow on sites with varying water availability, from areas that are rarely inundated to those that are flooded for several weeks at a time, making it highly competitive in wet habitats.  It has limited tolerance to salinity and is sensitive to freezing, but it sprouts after frost damage. 

Brazilian pepper trees reach early maturity (within 3 years of germinating), producing large amounts of seeds. Root suckers also promote new plants; causing native species to be excluded.

Control Methods

Physical control:

Physical control is possible in the form of cutting and digging the tree out, including all roots. However if the three is large, a herbicide option may be preferred.

Herbicide control

  • Cut and paste stumps within 10 mins with undiluted glyphosate.
  • Drill trunks at 200mm intervals and inject 5-10mL of undiluted glyphosate or Triclopyr in each hole.
  • Spray trunk with X-tree basal as per label instructions.
  • Spray seedlings with 60mL triclopyr (600g/L) + penetrant per 10L water.

CAUTION: When using any herbicide or pesticide, PLEASE READ THE LABEL THOROUGHLY to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed. 

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