Adapted from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter of September 21, 2007
issued from Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve,
QUERÉTARO, MÉXICO

BRAZILIAN PEPPER TREES
GONE WILD

A narrow gravel road beyond town led a few kilometers down a descending valley with a modest stream flowing in its bed. Brazilian Pepper Trees had spread from town down the valley and they were in flower. In the Mexican uplands you can't miss this species because it's planted abundantly as street trees and often escapes into natural areas. Leaves and flowers are shown below:

Brazilian Pepper Tree, SCHINUS MOLLE

Brazilian Pepper Trees are SCHINUS MOLLE and belong to the same family as do Poison Ivy and the sumacs, the Anacardiaceae, usually known as the Cashew Family. If you think about it, sumacs have pinnately compound leaves like the pepper tree's in the picture, and dense clusters of pale, tiny flowers as well. BB to pea-size, rose-colored fruits develop from the flowers. The tree's drooping, limber branch-tips and feathery leaves are distinctive. The leaves are aromatic when crushed. Male flowers occur on one tree, female on another (plants are dioecious).