Brazilian Peppertree

Schinus terebinthifolius

Other Common Names

Brazilian Pepper, Florida Holly, Christmas Berry

Plant Category

Shrub, Tree

Invasive Description

Originally from South America, the Brazilian Peppertree can grow to 30 or 40 feet in height with a trunk diameter of 3 feet. It responds to abrupt changes in its environment with heavy growth, acting as an opportunistic pioneer species (the first species to establish in a disturbed area). This broadleaf evergreen small tree or shrub is well-laden with intertwining, drooping branches and foliage. It forms thickets. Stems are yellow-green. A turpentine or pepper fragrance is given off upon crushing the leaves. White flowers cluster in small groups. Fruit are small red berries, 1/8 to 1/4 inch in diameter, held in clusters.

Ecological Threat

Originally sold as an ornamental in Texas, the Brazilian Peppertree forms dense thickets, shading out native grasses and shrubs, and actively takes over the plains in the Texas coastal plains. It is considered one of the greatest threats to native biodiversity for its dramatic affect on both plant and animal communities. Although some birds feed on and spread the seeds, the plant shades out many native plants used by other wildlife. The Peppertree was imported as an ornamental in the 1830s to Florida. By the 1950s it had become a problem in Florida.

Brazilian Peppertree is on the Texas Dept. of Agriculture’s List of Noxious Plants and on Texas Parks and Wildlife’s list of Invasive, Prohibited and Exotic species which are illegal to sell, distribute or import into Texas.

How to Eradicate

For information on how to eradicate this invasive, view our statement on herbicide use and preferred alternatives for invasive plants.

Native Alternatives

You can replace this invasive plant with native alternatives. Here are some plants that make superior replacements.

Match your location on the Texas map to the color squares on the replacement plants below to find suitable replacements for your ecoregion.

Click for more details about the ecoregions