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Schinus molle - L.

Common Name California Peppertree, Peruvian peppertree
Family Anacardiaceae
USDA hardiness 8-12
Known Hazards The seed contains an allergenic substance that can irritate the mucus membrane[200].
Habitats Dry regions in the Andes, it is found as a bush in dry lands but reaches tree size in dry river beds with accessible underground water[200].
Range Southern and western S. America - Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Half Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Schinus molle California Peppertree, Peruvian peppertree

Schinus molle California Peppertree, Peruvian peppertree


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Bloom Color: White, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early fall, Late fall, Mid fall. Form: Rounded.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Schinus molle is an evergreen Tree growing to 8 m (26ft) by 8 m (26ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 9. It is in leaf all year, in flower from April to June. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). . The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; South Wall. By. West Wall. By.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Inner bark  Oil  Stem
Edible Uses: Condiment  Drink  Gum  Oil

The dried and roasted berries are used as a pepper substitute[46, 177, 181, 183, 200]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. An (essential?) oil distilled from the fruit is used as a spice in baked goods and candy[183]. The fruits are pulverised and used in cooling drinks called 'horchatas' in S. America[2, 46, 183]. A wine is made from the twigs and another from the berries[2]. A gum that exudes from the bark is used for chewing[46, 177].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antiemetic  Antirheumatic  Appetizer  Digestive  Miscellany  Purgative

A resinous gum obtained from the bark has been used in folk medicine to treat digestive disorders[229]. A purgative known as 'American Mastic' is obtained from the tree[245]. This report is probably linked to the one above[K].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Gum  Miscellany  Oil

An oil from the leaves reduces the surface tension of water[200].

Special Uses

Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Specimen. Prefers a well-drained soil in full sun[200]. It likes growing in sandy soils[188] and succeeds in a hot dry position[166]. A fast-growing tree[188] in its native habitat, though it is likely to be much slower in areas where it is marginally hardy[K]. This species is not very hardy outdoors in Britain, though it can succeed when grown against a sunny wall in the milder areas of the country[166, 200]. The oily leaves smell and taste of pepper when they are crushed[245]. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Special Features: Not North American native, Naturalizing, Attractive flowers or blooms.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in a warm greenhouse in mid spring. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter before planting out in early summer[K]. Cuttings of almost ripe wood, 8cm with a heel, August to early September in a frame. Fair to good percentage[78].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Peruvian Peppertree, California Pepper, Peppercorn, Peruvian Mastic Tree, Aguaribay, Brazilian mastic tree, Californian pepper, Hucchu menasina mara, Mirimiri, Mpilipili, Muelle, Mugaita, Mulli, Peperboom, Pepper tree, Peppercorn, Pimiento Falso, Pink peppercorns, Pirul, Qundo, aguaribai, aguaribay, anacahuita, aroeira-do-amazonas, aroeira-folha-de-salso, aroeiro-mole, baie rose, california pepper tree, california pepper-tree, california peppertree, californian pepper tree, chichita péndula, chichita sauce, corneiva, curanguay, false pepper tree, falso pimentero, faux poivrier, ipepile, molle, molée des jardins, mulli, pepper tree, pepper-tree, peppercorn, peppertree, peruvian mastic tree, peruvian mastic-tree, peruvian pepper tree, peruvian peppertree, peruvian-mastictree, pfefferbaum, pimenteira-do-peru, pimentero, pimientero falso, pirul, schinus molle, umngcunube, árbol de la pimienta.

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Peru, Africa, Algeria, Andes, Argentina, Asia, Australia, Botswana, Brazil*, Bolivia, Canada, Central America, Chile, Colombia, East Africa, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Europe, France, Gambia, Greece, Hawaii, India, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Mediterranean, Mexico, North Africa, North America, Pacific, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru*, Portugal, Somalia, South Africa, Southern Africa, South America, Spain, Tanzania, Tasmania, Uganda, Uruguay, Turkey, USA, Venezuela, West Africa, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Schinus polygamusHuigen, Hardee peppertreeShrub4.5 7-10  LMHSNDM112

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

Readers comment

Arne Skytt Andersen   Mon Nov 29 14:30:20 2004

"molle" probably means soft in latin, but Linne named the plant after a peruvian name (Mullie) for the tree (ref. Bailey STD encl. Horticulture, 1935)

Peter Wendes [email protected]   Mon Aug 14 2006

I brought some seeds back from California, and now have 6 healthy seedlings, raised inddors on a sunny windowsill. I'm wondering if it would be safe to plant some of these outside in the Spring, and whether there are any mature trees outside in the UK. I live on the South coast. Best wishes Peter

Jenny Neal   Thu Feb 21 2008

There is an extremely large tree (20 metres high) growing in an olive grove in South West Crete(Mylos, Paleochora). I have been carrying out a botany project here in South West Crete and the locals asked me if I could identify the tree.

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