Kampala Tree and Palm Directory

Tree Species
Common Name
Tree Description
Tree Uses

English: Brazilian pepper, Brazilian holly, Brazilian pepper tree, Christmas berry, Florida holly, broadleaf pepper tree.

+ Tree Species

Schinus terebinthifolius

+ Tree Family


+ Ecology

Brazilian pepper is native to tropical south America (Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil). It grows in a variety of soil types and prefers partial sun. It also produces shady habitats that repel other plant species and discourage colonization by native fauna and alter the natural fire regime. Brazilian pepper tree is particularly found on forest borders and river margins. It is associated with damp soils and riparian forest habitats, although it may also appear as a dry savannah plant. In Kampala, Brazilian pepper can be found along Kololo Hill drive, within Uganda Golf course club, Makerere II zone C among other places.

+ Description

Brazilian pepper is a small tree that grows 3-10 m tall (occasionally up to 15 m) and 10-30 cm diameter (occasionally up to 60 cm). The tree may be multi-stemmed with arching, not drooping branches. The younger branches are covered with small whitish colored spots (i.e. lenticels) and its new stems are softly hairy (i.e. pubescent) or sparsely hairy (i.e. puberulent).

BARK: dark brown or blackish in color in old trees, very rough and deeply ridged.

LEAVES: pinnately compound, up to 40 cm long, with 2-8 pairs of elliptic to lanceolate leaflets and an additional leaflet at the end. Leaflets glabrous, 1.5-7.5 cm long and 7-32 mm wide, the terminal leaflet larger than lateral ones. Leaf margins entire to serrated and glabrous.

FLOWERS: borne in densely branched clusters (2-12.5 cm long) at the tips of the branches and in the upper leaf forks (i.e. in terminal or axillary panicles), white, in large, terminal panicles. Petals oblong to ovate, 1.2-2.5 mm long.

FRUIT: globose, bright red drupes, 4-5 mm in diameter.

+ Uses

An ornamental and shade tree.

Edible: fruits are highly appreciated as a condiment in Europe, where they are used as a substitute for black pepper (Piper nigrum).

Provides timber which is used for posts, round wood; stakes; pit props; pulp and short fiber pulp.

Provides fuelwood and is used to make charcoal.

The tree is a source of resins or gum. The resin can be used to preserve fishing lines and nets.

It's a source of tannin or dyestuff.

Essential oils extracted from the seeds have pesticidal activity against the housefly (Musca domestica) and its antimicrobial properties.

Agroforestry: produces good quality fodder to the animals especially for goats, provides bee forage / apiculture, used in erosion control, used in hedges, can be used for restoration of degraded areas and especially gallery forests.

Medicine: used as an antiseptic, relief of respiratory problems, and treatment of arthritis and muscular and tendon complaints. https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/shrub/schter/all.html

Brazilian pepper leaves and berries are used in decorations including Christmas wreaths.

The berries are used in making spices called peppercorn.

+ Propagation

Seeds, cuttings and suckers.

+ Management

Fast growing tree. Sensitization of the public so as to avoid cultivating, transplanting, spreading seeds and cuttings due to its invasive nature and retarding growth of other vegetation. Herbicides should also be used to kill the young trees and seeds so as reduce the spread of emerging young ones.

+ Remarks

Due to its invasive nature, this tree should be grown only for ornamental purposes and well managed so as to prevent its spread to areas where it is not needed especially in non - native communities. The fodder must be used carefully because of the toxicity of some of the plant parts. Its fruit has a 'paralyzing effect' on birds and even grazing animals when ingested.

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