Schinus molle - L.      
Common Name California Peppertree, Peruvian peppertree
Family Anacardiaceae
USDA hardiness 8-11
Known Hazards The seed contains an allergenic substance that can irritate the mucus membrane[200].
Habitats Dry regions in the Andes, it is found as a bush in dry lands but reaches tree size in dry river beds with accessible underground water[200].
Range S. America.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating  
Half Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun

Bloom Color: White, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early fall, Late fall, Mid fall. Form: Rounded.
Schinus molle California Peppertree, Peruvian peppertree
Schinus molle California Peppertree, Peruvian peppertree
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of cone
Schinus molle is an evergreen Tree growing to 8 m (26ft) by 8 m (26ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Apr to June. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required)The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.


Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; South Wall. By. West Wall. By.
Edible Uses
Edible Parts:
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Drink;  Gum.

The dried and roasted berries are used as a pepper substitute[46, 177, 181, 183, 200]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. An (essential?) oil distilled from the fruit is used as a spice in baked goods and candy[183]. The fruits are pulverised and used in cooling drinks called 'horchatas' in S. America[2, 46, 183]. A wine is made from the twigs and another from the berries[2]. A gum that exudes from the bark is used for chewing[46, 177].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antiemetic;  Antirheumatic;  Appetizer;  Digestive;  Miscellany;  Purgative.

A resinous gum obtained from the bark has been used in folk medicine to treat digestive disorders[229]. A purgative known as 'American Mastic' is obtained from the tree[245]. This report is probably linked to the one above[K].
Other Uses
Gum;  Miscellany.

An oil from the leaves reduces the surface tension of water[200].
Cultivation details
Landscape Uses:Specimen. Prefers a well-drained soil in full sun[200]. It likes growing in sandy soils[188] and succeeds in a hot dry position[166]. A fast-growing tree[188] in its native habitat, though it is likely to be much slower in areas where it is marginally hardy[K]. This species is not very hardy outdoors in Britain, though it can succeed when grown against a sunny wall in the milder areas of the country[166, 200]. The oily leaves smell and taste of pepper when they are crushed[245]. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Special Features: Not North American native, Naturalizing, Attractive flowers or blooms.
Seed - we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in a warm greenhouse in mid spring. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter before planting out in early summer[K]. Cuttings of almost ripe wood, 8cm with a heel, August to early September in a frame. Fair to good percentage


Additional information for Peruvian Pepper