California Pepper Tree

every1lovesjoey_(8)December 2, 2012

Does anyone have any experience with the California Pepper Tree? It was recommended to me by a local nursery in lieu of a Weeping Willow. Is it a messy tree? Poisonous to dogs?

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California pepper (a native of Peru) are dioecious, meaning there are male and female plants. The female trees produce seed containing an allergenic substance that can irritate the mucus membrane.

These trees typically struggle in the metro Phoenix area but do better in Tucson.

I'd opt for a Desert Willow. Stunning pink flowers from May - October, attract hummingbirds, doves love the small seeds, doesn't need much maintenance. I love the silouette of the branches against the winter sky.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 6:22PM
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Thank you I appreciate your feedback. I do have a Desert Willow and love it! I'm looking for a large dramatic tree in the middle of my yard to shade the yard and create a focal point.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 10:05PM
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Our neighbor had a pepper tree that overhung our patio. We loved it for the dappled shade and the privacy from his second story windows, but it was definitely a messy tree, with constant leaf and small branch drop, and blossom drop in the spring. Every year there was at least one major branch that died back and had to be cut off, and finally last year, the dieback overwhelmed the tree and he had to take it out. I don't think he took very good care of it (you'll notice the green part of the tree was overlooking our yard, where it actually got water).

I miss the tree, but I don't miss the mess and the constant dieback, and I certainly wouldn't plant one where I had to clean up after it.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 8:41AM
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Thanks for the photo! It looked like it could have been a beautiful tree.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 12:23PM
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What about a thornless Honey Mesquite?? The leaves are very similar to California Pepper but it never has the yellow / chlorotic look of the pepper. It has a graceful, weeping form and will grow to the size you indicate you want.

Here's a link to the one grown by Mountain States Wholesale Nursery in the west valley.

Here is a link that might be useful: Thornless Honey Mesquite

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 6:05PM
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Thanks for the recommendation. That's a great option!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 12:44AM
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There are a few people who just love Peruvian Pepper trees. I could never understand why they think pepper trees are so nice. I guess they have draping branches and fern-like leaflets, but the trunk shape and texture are not especially pretty, they seem to lurch over as if the tree was never meant to grow that tall (and they're not). I suspect the reason why so many people in hot climates like (or THINK they like) pepper trees is because the trees are so well adapted to arid climates, so these pepper trees look more lush and green the other trees around them.

I have mixed feelings about these Peruvian pepper trees, in fact I do not really know how to feel about them. There's something almost captivating about their draping branches, has a Spanish Mission feel to them. But at the same time they are kind of ugly. They are also kind of invasive, all those leaves and dry berries can get messy, and just to top it off, some people have an allergic reaction to contact with the leaves. The bark is really rough, it's not the type of tree I would want to climb in.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2014 at 4:48PM
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waterbug_guy(Phoenix AZ (Melrose))

I don't know of anything I don't have mixed feelings about.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One person not liking this or that is their deal. Not something I put a lot of stock in.

Whether a plant is good or bad depends way more on the gardener than the plant imo.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2014 at 11:57PM
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