Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Schinus molle
(false pepper tree)

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Datasheet

Schinus molle (false pepper tree)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 11 January 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Schinus molle
  • Preferred Common Name
  • false pepper tree
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
S. molle: mature tree.  Tula, Central Mexico, where it is almost the only arborescent species in the area. December 1991.
TitleHabit
CaptionS. molle: mature tree. Tula, Central Mexico, where it is almost the only arborescent species in the area. December 1991.
CopyrightN.M. Pasiecznik
S. molle: mature tree.  Tula, Central Mexico, where it is almost the only arborescent species in the area. December 1991.
HabitS. molle: mature tree. Tula, Central Mexico, where it is almost the only arborescent species in the area. December 1991.N.M. Pasiecznik
S. molle: sixth-month old seedling.  Note the stone mulch.  Almeira, Spain. 1989.
TitleSeedling
CaptionS. molle: sixth-month old seedling. Note the stone mulch. Almeira, Spain. 1989.
CopyrightN.M. Pasiecznik
S. molle: sixth-month old seedling.  Note the stone mulch.  Almeira, Spain. 1989.
SeedlingS. molle: sixth-month old seedling. Note the stone mulch. Almeira, Spain. 1989.N.M. Pasiecznik

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Schinus molle L.

Preferred Common Name

  • false pepper tree

Variety

  • Schinus molle var. argira

Other Scientific Names

  • Schinus argira
  • Schinus huygan Mol.

International Common Names

  • English: Brazilian pepper tree; California peppertree; pepper tree; peppertree; Peruvian pepper tree
  • Spanish: aguaribai; false pimiento; molle; pimento; piru; pirul
  • French: faux poivrier; faux poivrier du Perou; molée des jardins; poivrier d'Amérique
  • Arabic: filfilrafic
  • Portuguese: aroeira-do-matto

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: aroeira-salso
  • Germany: Peruanischer Pfefferbaum; Pfefferbaum
  • Italy: albero del pepe; pepe del Peru; schino
  • Kenya: mugaita
  • Netherlands: peperboom, Amerikaanse
  • Somalia: mirimiri

EPPO code

  • SCIMO (Schinus molle)

Trade name

  • false pepper

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Sapindales
  •                         Family: Anacardiaceae
  •                             Genus: Schinus
  •                                 Species: Schinus molle

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Schinus molle is a fairly distinct species (the preferred name has not changed since Linnaeus's first description in 1753) and a member of the large Anacardiaceae family. Synonyms are rare and one, S. areira, has been noted as a synonym, a botanical variety and a cultivar. Three other varieties, var. argentifolius, var. hassleri and var. rusbyi, have been recorded, though the status of these and whether they are accepted is uncertain. The generic name Schinus owes its origin to shinos, the Greek name for the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus), which is similar and related to S. molle, while the specific name molle is derived from mulli, the Peruvian (Quechua) name for the tree (World Agroforestry Centre, 2012). Most English language common names are variants of pepper tree, because of the spicy fruit.

Description

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Botanical descriptions are combined from a number of sources, including Mahoney (1990) and Vogt (1996)S. molle is a tree up to 15 m tall, often less than 10 m, with a spreading crown comprising drooping, pendulous twigs and weeping foliage. It is evergreen and unarmed. The bark is light grey-brown to dark brown, scaly or fissured, and peels to exude a sticky latex when damaged. The trunk, although often short, may be 2–4 m high and 60 cm in diameter. Branches tend to be brittle and may break in strong winds. The species is generally shallow rooted. Leaves are pinnate, alternate, imparipinnate, 25 (30) cm long, with a peppery smell when crushed, 1215 (40) pairs of leaflets, linear-lanceolate, narrow, 34 (6) cm long. S. molle is dioecious. Flowers are very small, green-yellow in colour, with five sepals, arranged in lax, hanging, open panicles at the ends of branches. The fruit is a berry containing a single, small, black seed, spherical and 35 (7) mm in diameter, similar to a black peppercorn, in a thin red (purple to rose-coloured) shell, with a strong, peppery smell and sweet peppery flavour. The fruit hangs in dense clusters of many dozen seeds, and may be persistent on the tree (Ravindran, 2017)

Distribution

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This tree originated in the South American Andes region of Peru and adjoining regions of Central–South America. It is widely introduced in tropical, sub-tropical and Mediterranean regions around the world (Ravindran, 2017). 

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes

Asia

IsraelPresent Planted
JordanPresent Planted
PakistanUnconfirmed record Planted
SyriaPresent Planted
TurkeyPresent Planted
YemenPresent Planted

Africa

AlgeriaPresent Planted
BotswanaPresent Planted
EgyptPresent Planted
EthiopiaPresent Planted
KenyaPresent Planted
LibyaPresent Planted
MoroccoPresent Planted
SomaliaPresent Planted
Spain
-Canary IslandsPresent Planted
SudanPresent Planted
TanzaniaPresent Planted
TunisiaPresent Planted

North America

MexicoPresentPlanted, Natural
USAUnconfirmed recordCAB Abstracts
-CaliforniaUnconfirmed record Planted CAB Abstracts
-HawaiiPresent Planted
-TexasPresent Planted

Central America and Caribbean

Costa RicaPresent Natural
El SalvadorPresent Natural
GuatemalaPresent Natural
HondurasPresent Natural
NicaraguaPresent Natural
PanamaPresent Natural
Puerto RicoPresent Planted

South America

ArgentinaPresent Natural
BoliviaPresentPlanted, Natural
BrazilPresent Natural
-Rio Grande do SulPresent Natural
-Santa CatarinaPresent Natural
ChilePresentPlanted, Natural
ColombiaPresent Natural
EcuadorPresent Natural
ParaguayPresent Natural
PeruPresentPlanted, Natural
UruguayPresent Natural
VenezuelaPresent Natural

Europe

GreecePresent Planted
ItalyPresent Planted
PortugalPresent Planted
SpainPresent Planted
-Balearic IslandsPresent Planted

Oceania

AustraliaPresent Planted
-New South WalesPresent Planted
-South AustraliaPresent Planted
-TasmaniaPresent Planted
-VictoriaPresent Planted
-Western AustraliaPresent Planted
New ZealandPresent Planted

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial

Biology and Ecology

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Within the area of natural distribution flowering occurs in September to December and fruits are ripe in December-January. In East Africa fruits are collected in March. All fruits do not mature at the same time and within a cluster the fruits will often be at different stages of maturity (Jøker et al., 2002). In the northern hemisphere peak flowering is from August to November and peak fruiting is from January to March. Seeds are dispersed by vertebrates, including foxes (Silva et al., 2005) and birds, whose frugivory enhances seed germination (Reid and Armesto, 2011).

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
25 -35 400 4200

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -2
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 21 20
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 20 28
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 5 12

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration48number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall300800mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light

Special soil tolerances

  • saline

Uses

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Californian pepper berries are sold as pink pepper. The extract is used to flavour drinks and syrups and pink peppercorns can be used in a variety of recipes, both savoury and sweet. In Mexico, the fruit is ground and mixed with other substances to make beverages. An alcoholic drink known as ‘copalocle’ or ‘copalote’ is obtained by fermenting the fruit with pulque (a fermented Mexican drink from the juice of various agave plants) for 1–2 days. Californian pepper has a mild, sweet taste described as aromatic, citric, fruity and floral. It is cooked with vegetables or used as a garnish; with butter it is used with fish and asparagus. Vinegar made from the fruit makes an excellent base for vinaigrette. It is also used in baking biscuits and in desserts. Pink pepper is used in many recipes around the world, especially in the cuisines of Central and South America.

In Central American regions, the Californian pepper tree is used widely in traditional medicine. All parts of the tree have been used medicinally by the people of Peru, Chile and the adjoining regions. It is used as an anti-depressant, anti-spasmodic, astringent, purgative, balsamic, stimulant, tonic and for blennorrhagia, bronchitis, coughs, cystitis, diarrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, fever, grippe, haemorrhage, inflammation, menstrual disorders, menorrhagia, ophthalmic illnesses, respiratory tract disorders, rheumatism, tumours, urethritis and urinary tract disorders, and as a masticatory. In Uruguay it is used in dysmenorrhoea, rheumatism and as an antiseptic and cicatrizant. In Peru it is also used as an anti-pyretic, antiseptic, cicatrizant, diuretic, purgative, in rheumatism, toothache and for treating fractures. In Paraguay, Californian pepper is used in the treatment of blennorrhagia and as a diuretic, as an emmenagogue as well as for sores, urethritis and wounds. In Mexico it is also used for similar diseases and ailments. The oleoresin is used externally as a wound healer, purgative, to stop bleeding and for toothaches and is taken internally for rheumatism. A leaf tea is used to treat colds and a leaf decoction is inhaled for colds, hypertension, depression and an irregular heartbeat. In the Brazilian Amazon, bark tea is used as a laxative and a bark-and-leaf tea is used as a stimulant and anti-depressant. In Argentina, a decoction made with the dried leaves is taken for menstrual disorders and is also used for respiratory and urinary tract infections and disorders. The leaves are prepared as an infusion and the bark is best prepared as a decoction or an alcohol tincture.

The Californian pepper tree is also grown as an ornamental and is suitable for bee forage. The wood can be burned both as firewood and charcoal. The heartwood is dull, light red, deepening upon exposure becoming more or less purplish and rather oily looking; distinct but not sharply demarcated from the brownish-grey sapwood, moderately hard and heavy, texture medium to fine, uniform; grain variable, often irregular; very easy to work; and durability high. The wood is termite resistant and therefore suitable for posts. The tree produces an aromatic resin that is used as mastic. Latex is produced from many parts of the tree. The bark is used for tanning leather (Ravindran, 2017).

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Agroforestry

Fuels

  • Charcoal
  • Fuelwood

Human food and beverage

  • Spices and culinary herbs

Materials

  • Dye/tanning
  • Poisonous to mammals
  • Wood/timber

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Ornamental

  • Christmas tree
  • Cut flower
  • garden plant
  • Potted plant
  • Propagation material
  • Seed trade

Wood Products

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Charcoal

Roundwood

  • Building poles
  • Posts

References

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Abdel-Sattar E, Zaitoun AA, Farag MA, El-Gayed SH, Harraz FMH, 2010. Chemical composition, insecticidal and insect repellent activity of Schinus molle L. leaf and fruit essential oils against Trogoderma granarium and Tribolium castaneum. Natural Product Research, 24(3):226-235

Anwar T, Jabbar A, Khalique F, Tahir S, Shakeel MA, 1992. Plants with insecticidal activities against four major insect pests in Pakistan. Tropical Pest Management, 38(4):431-437

Arocha Y, Plata G, Franco J, Maín G, Veramendi S, Lazcano F, Crespo JL, Lino V, Calderón C, Llerena R, Andrew R, Antezana O, Gutiérrez A, Coca M, Boa E, 2010. First report of a 16SrIII phytoplasma (X-disease group) affecting bell pepper, strawberry (frutilla), Schinus molle and Arracacia xanthorrhiza in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Plant Pathology, 59(2):395. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/ppa

Baser KHC, Kurkcuoglu M, Demircakmak B, Ulker N, Beis SH, 1997. Composition of the essential oil of Schinus molle L. grown in Turkey. Journal of Essential Oil Research, 9(6):693-696

Bayhan SO, Bayhan E, Ulusoy MR, 2006. Impact of neem and extracts of some plants on development and fecundity of Aphis gossypii Glover (Homoptera: Aphididae). Bulgarian Journal of Agricultural Science, 12(6):781-787

Bendz M, 1990. Survival of planted tree seedlings: an inventory in Wollo, Ethiopia. A minor field study. Working Paper International Rural Development Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, No. 154

Benzi V, Stefanazzi N, Ferrero AA, 2009. Biological activity of essential oils from leaves and fruits of pepper tree (Schinus molle L.) to control rice weevil (Sitophilus oryzae L.). Chilean Journal of Agricultural Research, 69(2):154-159. http://www.chileanjar.cl/filesj.php?cmd=abstract&lang=ENG&id=17

Borella J, Martinazzo EG, Aumonde TZ, 2011. Allelopathic activity of extracts of Schinus molle L. leaves on the germination and early growth of radish. (Atividade alelopática de extratos de folhas de Schinus molle L. sobre a germinação e o crescimento inicial do rabanete.) Revista Brasileira de Biociências, 9(3):398-404. http://www6.ufrgs.br/seerbio/ojs/index.php/rbb/article/view/1766/1062

Brandt R, Zimmermann H, Hensen I, Castro JCM, Rist S, 2012. Agroforestry species of the Bolivian Andes: an integrated assessment of ecological, economic and socio-cultural plant values. Agroforestry Systems, 86(1):1-16. http://www.springerlink.com/content/0167-4366

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Camacho Morfín F, Ramírez Pacheco M, 1987. Chemical dormancy of seeds of Schinus molle in three sowing treatments. Ciencia Forestal, 12(62):15-32; 18 ref

Chiffelle I, Huerta A, Celis M, Araya JE, 2013. Proximal analysis and insecticidal effects of extracts from pepper tree (Schinus molle) leaves on elm leaf beetle (Xanthogaleruca luteola) larvae. Industrial Crops and Products, 43:523-528. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0926669012004402

Descamps LR, Stefanazzi N, Sanchez Chopa C, Ferrero AA, 2008. Biological activities of plant extracts of Schinus molle var. areira (Anacardiaceae) against Tribolium castaneum Herbst. (Insecta, Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae), a grain stored pest. (Actividad biológica de extractos vegetales de Schinus molle var. areira (Anacardiaceae) en Tribolium castaneum Herbst. (Insecta, Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae), plaga de grano almacenado.) Boletín de Sanidad Vegetal, Plagas, 34(4):595-605

Deveci O, Sukan A, Tuzun N, Kocabas EEH, 2010. Chemical composition, repellent and antimicrobial activity of Schinus molle L. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, 4(21):2211-2216. http://www.academicjournals.org/JMPR/PDF/pdf2010/4Nov/Deveci%20et%20al.pdf

Díaz C, Quesada S, Brenes O, Aguilar G, Cicció JF, 2008. Chemical composition of Schinus molle essential oil and its cytotoxic activity on tumour cell lines. Natural Product Research, 22(17):1521-1534

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Ferrero AA, Werdin González JO, Sánchez Chopa C, 2006. Biological activity of Schinus molle on Triatoma infestans. Fitoterapia, 77(5):381-383. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/0367326x

Gebre-Amlak A, Azerefegne F, 1999. Insecticidal activity of chinaberry, endod and pepper tree against the maize stalk borer (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in Southern Ethiopia. International Journal of Pest Management, 45(1):9-13; 17 ref

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Goldstein DJ, Coleman RC, 2004. Schinus molle L. (Anacardiaceae) chicha production in the Central Andes. Economic Botany, 58(4):523-529

Guardiola VG, Miguel P de, Primo E, 1990. Repellent activity against Blattella germanica of components of Schinus molle L. Revista de Agroquimica y Tecnologia de Alimentos, 30(3):341-346

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Hernández-Albíter RC, Barrera-Necha LL, Bautista-Baños S, Bravo-Luna L, 2007. Antifungal potential of crude plant extracts on conidial germination of two isolates of Colletotrichum gloeosporioides (Penz.) Penz. and Sacc. Revista Mexicana de Fitopatología, 25(2):180-185. http://members.tripod.com/~sociedad/Sociedad.htm

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Iannacone J, Alvariño L, 2010. Toxicity of Schinus molle L. (Anacardiaceae) on four biological control agents of agriculture pest in Peru. (Toxicidad de Schinus molle L. (Anacardiaceae) a cuatro controladores biológicos de plagas agrícolas en el Perú.) Acta Zoologica Mexicana, 26(3):603-615. http://www1.inecol.edu.mx/azm/AZM26-3(2010)/26(3)7-Iannacone.pdf

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Pérez-López A, Cirio AT, Rivas-Galindo VM, Aranda RS, Torres NWde, 2011. Activity against Streptococcus pneumoniae of the essential oil and delta-cadinene isolated from Schinus molle fruit. Journal of Essential Oil Research, 23(5):25-28. http://www.jeoronline.com/

Ravindran, P. N., 2017. The encyclopedia of herbs & spices. Volumes 1 and 2, [ed. by Ravindran, P. N.]. Wallingford, UK: CAB International.xlv + 1128 pp. http://www.cabi.org/cabebooks/ebook/20173378261 doi:10.1079/9781780643151.0000

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Richardson DM, Iponga DM, Roura-Pascual N, Krug RM, Milton SJ, Hughes GO, Thuiller W, 2010. Accommodating scenarios of climate change and management in modelling the distribution of the invasive tree Schinus molle in South Africa. Ecography, 33(6):1049-1061. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1600-0587

Rodrigues VG, Cardoso Mdas G, Moraes JC, Machado SMF, Lima RK, Andrade MA, Gomes Mde G, 2011. Chemical composition and insecticidal activity of the essential oil of Schinus molle L. on Tenebrio molitor L., 1785 (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae). (Composição química e atividade inseticida do óleo essencial de Schinus molle L. sobre Tenebrio molitor L., 1785 (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae).) Magistra, 23(4):161-167. http://www.ufrb.edu.br/magistra/2000-atual/volume-23-ano-2011/558-numero-4-out-a-dez

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Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS)http://griis.org/Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

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