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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Schinus molle - California Peppertree

The California Peppertree, neither a Californian or a pepper but whats in a name anyway. Old trees are a sight to see with their lumpy trunks, weeping habit and nice attractive fruit, they seem to say old California landscape.

This broadleaf evergreen hails from South America, reaches a size of 15 to 30' by about the same, and forms a spreading rounded crown and weeping lateral branches.



The evergreen leaves are alternate, pinnately compound 6-12" long with 20 to 60 leaflets. Each leaflet is 1-2" long by 1/4" wide, lanceolate, with serrulate or entire margins. Sometimes there is a terminal leaflet and sometimes not.



Flowers are borne on separate male and female trees, females giving rise to the attractive fruit. Flowers are yellowish white, in many branched clusters borne at the tips of the branches.

Fruit is an attractive rose-colored or red drupe about 1/4" in diameter held in drooping clusters. They are messy to say the least.



The bark is stringy or fibrous, warty or bumpy, not sure what to call it but cool.


Great looking tree if not a mess, but hey, you cant have everything.

Misidentification; Other Schinus perhaps? The Brazilian peppertree is smaller, has fewer leaflets and more rounded canopy.

Maytenus boria has leaves very similar but not really, they just look like it, the mayten tree has simple leaves and not compound but they are easily confused.

Locations:

Aptos:

Capitola
Lots of places, a great one with a massive trunk at 608 Capitola Ave. I do like the ones on Depot Hill in Capitola, and you can see both Schinus species, S. terebinthifolius as well as Maytenus boria to clarify any identification issues. Check them all out at 112 Oakland St for the mayten, 202 for the Cal peppertree and then up a block to 502 El Salto for the Brazilian peppertree.

Soquel:
4500 Soquel Dr.

Santa Cruz:
924 Walnut

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