Invasive Plant Spotlight: Brazilian Pepper

Schinus terebinthifolius Raddi, Brazilian pepper-tree, Anacardiaceae

Varieties: Schinus terebinthifolius var. raddianus Engl., Schinus terebinthifolius var. rhoifolius (Mart.) Engl. Learn more on the Integrated Taxonomic System Information System.

A Brazillian Pepper tree
Brazilian pepper-tree habit.

Courtesy of Stephanie Sanchez,

Description & Habitat

Species Description

Brazilian pepper-tree is an evergreen shrub or small tree, 3-10 m tall (occasionally 15 m). Bark is gray, smooth or becoming furrowed into long narrow flat ridges. The sap is aromatic and resinous. Leaves are alternate pinnate with narrowly winged green finely hairy axis. Leaflets often have inconspicuous small blunt teeth toward tips, are nearly hairless, and the upper surface is shiny green. Male and female flowers are on different plants (dioecious). Petals, five, are white. Berries are in dense clusters, bright red, and have aromatic resinous brown pulp.


This species colonizes open areas, and is associated with damp soils. It occupies a wider range of habitats where it has been introduced including farmed land, mangrove, pineland, grassland, coastal wetlands, riparian systems, forests and roadsides.

Introduction and Impacts

Brazilian pepper-tree is native to Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil. The species was brought into Florida in mid-1800 for use as an ornamental plant. Its bright red berries and brilliant green foliage are used frequently as Christmas decorations.

This species is an aggressive woody weed. It displaces native vegetation and rapidly invades disturbed sites. It has a high growth rate, wide environmental tolerance, is a prolific seed producer, has a high germination rate, produces shade tolerant seedlings, and has the ability to form dense thickets.

Map of Brazilian Pepper range
States where Brazilian pepper-tree occurs.

Courtesy of EDDMapS. 2018. Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System. The University of Georgia - Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.

Where is it now?

In the United States, Brazilian pepper-tree occurs in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, and Texas.

In addition to being very invasive in the United States, it is also a serious weed in South Africa. It is also invasive in Spain, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific, Caribbean and Indian Ocean islands.

Brazillian Pepper in fruit with red fruits on its leaves
Brazilian pepper-tree in fruit.

Dan Clark, USDI National Park Service,

Control & Management

A range of options are available for management of this species including cultural (native planting for competition), mechanical, and chemical. Mechanical methods must be aggressive and remove the entire plant especially any roots. Herbicides that have been found to be effective include bromacil, diuron, hexazinone, triclopyr, and glyphosate. Treatments include foliar, basal bark, and cut stump.


In Florida, this species is listed as a noxious weed and a Class 1 prohibited aquatic plant. In Texas, this species is listed as a noxious plant.

  • Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), Invasive Species Compedium. Schinus terebinthifolius (Brazilian pepper tree) Datasheet ( Copyright 2018. Accessed 27 May 2018.
  • Integrated Taxonomic Information System, ITIS ( Accessed 27 May 2018. (Naming convention follows ITIS).

Information compiled by the Biological Resources Division. For more information on invasive species, visit the Invasive and Non-Native website or the Invasive Plant Program website.

Last updated: February 22, 2019