FLIP: Florida Invasive Plants

Schinus terebinthifolia

Common Name(s): Brazilian pepper, Florida Holly, Christmas berry, pepper tree


Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay 

Ecological Impact

Can form dense infestations that shade out and disrupt native vegetation.   Foliage contains allelopathic chemicals to deter other flora and fauna.  Is tolerant to a variety of environmental conditions; growing best in moist soils.   All parts of this plant can cause a rash on the skin or irritate airways of people (Miller, Chambliss, and Lowenstein, 2010). 


An evergreen shrub that grows up to 40 feet.   Evergreen and thick leaves are arranged alternately and odd-pinnately compound.  Flowers are white with yellow centers, arranged in clusters, with 5 petals.  Fruit is a round drupe that ripens from a light green to a bright red and then a dark red from December to August (Miller, Chambliss, and Loewenstein, 2010).  

Identification Tips

Look for bright red berries and thick, dark green leaves that emit a pepper aroma when torn or crushed.  Older bark may have gray ridges and reddish-brown fissures.  Resembles nonnative peppertree (S. molle L.)  and poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix) that grows in moist habitats (Miller, Chambliss, and Loewenstein, 2010).


Introduced to Florida in the 1840s as an ornamental plant.  

Florida Range

Found throughout the state of Florida, mainly central and southern.

Prevention/Management Strategies

Do not plant.  Manually pull any new seedlings and cut when seeds are not present (Miller, Manning, and Enloe, 2010).


Most photos courtesy of the Atlas of Florida Plants; click for additional plant details.

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Florida Invasive Plants