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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Schinus terebinthifolius - Brazilian Peppertree

The Brazilian Peppertree is a small evergreen tree or large shrub, generally single stemmed to about 25-30' tall and rounded, quite symmetrical in shape, often domed. This is an attractive small tree but considered to be somewhat invasive.



The evergreen leaves are alternate, odd-pinnately compound, usually 7 leaflets but 3-11 or so possible. Leaves about 5- 8" long. Leaflets about  1-2" long elliptical with sparsely serrated margins. Rachis is often winged. New foliage often reddish, and having a red midrib and red petioles. Peppery smell when crushed.



Here is the winged rachis. You can also see the serrations on the margins.



Flowers are small, white, in panicles about 6" across, blooming early winter here.



Here is a typical cluster on a tree, in January.



Small red drupes in clusters, in the fall, persisting till the birds eat them. 



Stems are neither stout or thin, just normal width. Smooth when young, can have some red color. notice the red petioles. Small buds as  you can barely see.




Older trees develop a nice furrowed bark and often have a very congested branching pattern if pruned heavily.



Misidentification:
not sure, look for the winged rachis, dont confuse it with S. molle just because it has little red/pink fruit.

Location: Lots around town,

These are from Depot hill on El Salto,
top picture is on Willowbrook Lane in Aptos across from the tennis courts.

Santa Cruz:
1116 King St.

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