Broad-leaved Pepper Tree

Schinus Terebinthifolius

The Broad-leaved Pepper Tree (Schinus Terebinthifolius) is native to South America, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. These large trees growing up to 10 metres tall with dark green leaves have become a significant problem in Australia. Originally introduced as an ornamental shrub these trees are now considered a class 3 weed under the Queensland government. These trees fall into a male or female category making this a dioecious species. The flowers are on densely branched clusters at the tips of the branches and upper leaf forks. The female and male flowers both have small green sepals and small white coloured petals. Male flowers have tiny yellow stamens while the flowers of females have an ovary topped with a couple of short styles. Spring and autumn are the most common flowering periods but can occur throughout the whole year. The fruit contain a hard, light brown seed in the centre. Turning bright red when they ripen and glossy in appearance. After fully maturing the skin on the berry flakes apart as the skin becomes fragile. When crushed the leaves and berries have a pepper smell.

This tree places a serious threat to Australians ecosystems, specially in coastal regions, wetlands and riparian zones. Being listed on numerous council environmental weed lists this tree should not be replanted. Containing toxins resins and being a relative to the Rhus and Poison Ivy Tree. The Broad-leaved pepper tree may be poisonous to humans and animals. Such symptoms like severe itching, rashes, reddening and swelling of the face, associated with flowering trees and the sap. Florida has recorded significant death of birds due to ingesting the fruit. Horses standing under these trees can develop dermatitis symptoms with swollen faces (similar to humans). This tree is also an invasive weed in Hawaii and Florida dominating native vegetation. Extending from the Queensland border south to the mid-north coast region. Dense infestations occur on poorly drained or waterlogged soils in coastal areas. In the last 5 years populations have increased and have become quite widespread in Brisbane.

Primarily the Broad-leaved Pepper Tree is spread through seed dispersal by birds and animals. The tree produces bright red berries when ripe which attracts particular birds and animals. The broad-leaved pepper tree can also reproduce from root suckers. Suckers are new stems that grow from the root system creating new stems or or branches for the tree. This makes it hard when people think that just by cutting the tree down will stop it from reproducing. You will start to notice these ‘root suckers’ growing up around the tree stump or in that general area. By stump grinding the entire stump and root system away this can prevent the tree from producing root suckers in the first place. Stump grinding should be done sooner than later to minimise the sucker growth.

Give Just Stumpgrinding a call today and we can help you to remove this invasive weed for good!