Brazilian pepper-tree Schinus terebinthifolius

This invasive alien species is present in the Mount Moreland Conservation area


The Brazilian pepper-tree Schinus terebinthifolius  belongs to the family Anacardiaceae, other well known trees that belong to this family are the mango, marula, cashew and pistachio. The Brazilian pepper-tree is native to south eastern Brazil, northern Argentina and Paraguay. 


                                        Brazilian pepper-tree Schinus terebinthifolius  Brazilian pepper-tree Schinus terebinthifolius



Brazilian pepper-tree is a small tree that reaches over 30 feet in height, typically with multiple short trunks hidden in a thicket of branches. The leaves are alternately arranged with 1-2 inch long, elliptic, and finely toothed leaflets. The leaves are also reddish, often possessing a reddish mid-rib. The flower clusters are white and 2-3 inches long with male and female flowers that look very similar. The glossy fruits are borne in clusters that are initially green, becoming bright red when ripe.  


 The Brazilian pepper-tree Schinus terebinthifolius is a highly invasive alien invasive species  

The Brazilian pepper-tree Schinus terebinthifolius has become a serious weed in South Africa, California, Florida and Hawaii, USA. It is also known to be invasive in Australia, New Zealand, as well as in many Pacific, Caribbean and Indian Ocean islands. Although it is not invasive in its native range it has become an aggressive woody weed in exotic locations, displacing native vegetation as well as rapidly invading disturbed sites, often naturalizing. High growth rate, wide environmental tolerance, prolific seed production, a high germination rate, shade tolerant seedlings, attraction of biotic dispersal agents and the ability to form dense thickets all contribute to this species being highly invasive in its exotic range. It is especially suited to colonizing disturbed sites and can grow in both wet and dry conditions. Its growth habit allows it to climb over under story trees and invade mature canopies, forming thickets that choke out most other plants. 

Birds and mammals (monkeys) are the primary mechanisms for dispersal here in South Africa. Seeds are viable for up to 2 months, losing viability as time progresses. The invasiveness of Brazilian pepper tree in our region can be attributed to its high germination rates and efficient dispersal agents. 


The Brazilian pepper-tree Schinus terebinthifolius  is classified as a Cat 1 invasive plant in our region. 


Removal and control of the Brazilian pepper-tree Schinus terebinthifolius 



Basal Bark treatment: 

This is the easiest and preferred method of control because it not only kills the target tree but prevents re-growth from the roots which occurs if the trees are simply cut down. A mixture of triclopyr mixed at the rate of 1.5% with diesel is painted  in a 250 mm band as low as possible around the base of the target tree. 


Foliar Herbicide Application  

Foliar applications are very effective, but thorough coverage is essential triclopyr or glyphosate herbicide should be applied directly to the tree's foliage and will be translocated to other parts of the tree. Due to their large size and often-inaccessible habitat, foliar application is limited to seedlings.  



Active ingredient 

Dose rate 

Cut stump 

Triclopyr (240 g/L) 



Glyphosate(360 g/L) 


Mix 15 ml with 1L diesel 


30 ml  per 1L water 


Apply to the cut surface as well as a band around the stump 

Foliar Spray 

Glyphosate (360 g/L) 



Triclopyr (240 g/L) 


15 ml per 1L water 



15 ml per 1L water 



Apply to drip off 

Basal bark application 

Triclopyr (240 g/L) 


Mix 15 ml with 1L diesel paint in a band of 250 mm around the base of the trunk 



When utilizing mechanical methods, the entire plant, particularly the root system, should be removed. Roots 5 mm in diameter and larger are able to re-sprout and produce new plants, so follow-up from this type of control method will be necessary. Where trees have been cut down the remaining stump must be treated as soon as possible after being cut with a chemical herbicide to prevent re-growth from both the remaining stump as well as from the roots. 



Pepper-tree seeds cannot tolerate heat and will not germinate following a fire, but the plant has the potential to re-sprout after a fire from roots. 


Submitted By: MIcheal Hickman