pepper trees, is the pepper good?

halemalu(hawaii/molokai)October 4, 2005

there are pepper trees growing all around us with the red pepper corns on them. i thought that is where pepper comes from, but i was told that pepper corns grow on vines. these are smaller. i tasted one and it seems like pepper allright. haven't been able to find info on them when i googled this. have any of you more info?

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I'm not sure which species you have-- Schinus terebinthifolius is more commonly called Christmasberry here, but is also known as Brazilian Pepper Tree. Less common in Hawaii is the California Pepper Tree, Schinus molle, which has kind of a weeping willow appearance.

Fruits of either one are called "pink peppercorns"-- no relation to the black or white peppercorns that commercial pepper comes from. They can be used as a seasoning, though. I've never tried it, so I don't know how it tastes, but I've seen them in gift shops and gourmet stores, usually WAY overpriced considering how common they are.

Hey, go try 'em!

Here is a link that might be useful: Pink Peppercorns

    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 1:54AM
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I recently googled Schinus for info on using the berries for decoration. Several sites mentioned that the foliage gives some folks a skin rash. I don't remember whether that included the berries...but just wanted to mention.


Here is a link that might be useful: Schinus

    Bookmark   October 15, 2005 at 8:42PM
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Same family as cashew, mango and sumac. Facciola, CORNUCOPIA II (Kampong Publications) says of Schinus molle "Dried, roasted berries are used as a pepper substitute" but those of S. terebinthifolius, although "imported from Reunion" and "sold in expensive specialty markets", "used as a spice in Cajun and Nouvelle cousines" are also "known to cause rashes, vomiting, and diarreah in some sensitive individuals".

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 3:30PM
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I live in Florida and was appalled when they started planting these Brazilian pepper trees on Lanai, where my family is from. These trees are EVIL. They are extremely aggressive and will choke out everything else with their dense, climbing growth. My advice is to get rid of these while you can, if it's not too late. See this link for additional information.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pepper tree info

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 1:26PM
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hotzcatz(Hamakua, Hawaii)

Aloha Halemalu,

If you want the black peppercorn variety of pepper, it does grow as a vine with heart shaped leaves. See if your plant store (does Molokai have plant stores?) has one. Otherwise Royal Palm Enterprises on the Big Island has a website which I think you can order one from.

Hey, I looked, he does have a website and he's having a sale right now. He's a nice guy and grows lovely plants, I buy lots from him at the semi-annual plant sales.

A hui hou,

Here is a link that might be useful: Royal Palm Enterprises, Spice page

    Bookmark   November 29, 2005 at 11:47PM
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Well, there's a huge California pepper tree in my neighbor's front yard and I have full access to the pepper berries hanging over the fence.
Yesterday a friend of mine told me "hey this is pepper, red pepper," he said.
"Are you sure," I said, "yes," he said, "you can put it in your pepper grinder."
Well today I had to make Bison soup so I added a few clusters of this california pepper tree to my soup, the taste is a little strong, I did use the bark also.
I'll use it again, but it doesn't taste like black peppercorn.
It does have a very intense flavor and aroma that's actually good but maybe I should have used less, my soup is still awesome.
I called poison control center, they said I may have a stomach ache but I'm fine.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 7:19PM
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I have two of these pepper trees here in California. One I cut down at the request of my neighbor, who was selling his house at the time and thought it would help property values if the tree were gone. However, a year later, that thing was back up and living large with new sprouts appearing up to 20 feet away from the original stump. Since then, now two years later, it's been a nightmare to control. Weeds I can pull. This monstrosity is connected through a root system and just can't be controlled, and the stalks can't be pulled, just cut. Does anyone know of any way, without using herbicides, to get rid of these things for good? Are there any competitors to these trees that could be planted nearby to keep them from thriving? I've recently encouraged some vines, weeds, and grasses nearby in the hopes that they might choke off this pepper tree, but to no avail.

On the plus side, if we ever want to terraform Mars, I know what plant would do the trick!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 2:16PM
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I don't know if I'd risk eating stuff like that but I know the foliage can cause a rash because a neighbor kid got all burned up from getting into one. They are EVERYWHERE around here; it's amazing.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 7:47AM
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These trees are the worst,I'm at present trying to clear the X-mas Berry as well as Scrambled Eggs from my property perimeter which the neighbor and past owner let get established. They are tangled and messy, and dave nagel is right; they spred like wildfire. How about that stump rotter stuff they sell at Wal Mart - will that kill it after it's chainsawed ? How about brushing the top of the stump with roundup - will that work ?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 11:48PM
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johndp8888(Oahu, Hawaii)

Yes. This plant is nasty. The red fruits are used to add color to a mix of white, black and red "pepper" called French Pepper. The red is just for color and not really for flavor, as the fruits are toxic in larger quantities.

The tree can be removed by continual cutting of new shoots but the process is slow. Better in terms of speed is cut then paint the bark ring with Roundup. Use of stump remover speeds up the process but it is a chemical like roundup. Be careful with the cutting. Use gloves and a respirator, as the tree juices and particles are toxic for many people. Many others can work it without any problem but why take chances. Woodworkers who turn bowls and carve the wood usually do so very carefully, as they have the same problems, particularly when they use power tools. Better to get rid of it and leave it alone.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 10:56AM
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