T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Schinus molle (Peruvian pepper tree)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Schinus
Species: S. molle
Binomial name: Schinus molle
Common names: Peruvian pepper, Pink Pepper, American pepper, Peruvian pepper tree, Escobilla, false pepper, molle del Peru, Pepper tree, Peppercorn tree, Californian pepper tree, Pirul, Peruvian mastic. 

Schinus molle is an evergreen tree native to the dry regions of Northern South America and Peru's Andean deserts and goes to Central Argentina and Central Chile. It is now widely naturalised around the world where it has been planted. This drought-tolerant, long-lived, hardy evergreen species has become a serious invasive weed internationally. It is now invasive throughout much of Australia in a range of habitats from grasslands to dry open forest and coastal areas. In New Zealand, it is not listed in the National Pest Plant Accord though Schinus terebinthifolius is. Schinus molle has the potential to become invasive in New Zealand. Schinus molle produces suckers (root sprouts) that can emerge some distance from the originating plant. The seeds are spread by birds.

Schinus molle is a quick growing wide spreading, dioecious, evergreen tree that grows up to 15 meters tall and wide with gnarled and twisted trunk when mature. The upper branches of the tree tend to droop. 
The tree's long, narrow, bright green, pinnately compound leaves measure 8–25 cm long × 4–9 cm wide and are made up of 19-41 alternate leaflets. 
During December, January, February male and female flowers occur on separate plants (dioecious). Flowers are small, white/yellow and are borne profusely in panicles at the ends of the drooping branches. The fruit is 5–7 mm diameter round drupes with woody seeds that turn from green to red, pink or purplish and are carried in dense clusters of hundreds of berries that can be present year-round. 
The rough greyish bark is twisted and drips sap. The bark, leaves and berries give a distinctive peppery fragrance when crushed. 
The berries are moderately poisonous particularly the seeds.

The gum emperor-moth has also been recorded in New Zealand on Schinus molle (pepper tree), on which it can complete its development from egg to adult,

 





The tree's flakey bark.


Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information:
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0