Brazilian Pepper

Schinus molle

Brazilian Pepper, Schinus molle, photo © by Michael Plagens

Observed near Eldoreet, Kenya. December 2013. In the whole tree image below the bright orange are flowers of parasitic mistletoe, Phragmanthera sp.

Brazilian Pepper, Schinus molle, photo © by Michael Plagens

From Wikipedia: A quick growing evergreen tree that grows to 15 meters tall and 5–10 meters wide. The upper branches of the tree tend to droop. The pinnately compound leaves measure 8–25 cm long × 4–9 cm wide and are made up of 19-41 alternate leaflets. Male and female flowers occur on separate plants (dioecious). Flowers are small, white and borne profusely in panicles at the ends of the drooping branches. The fruit are 5–7 mm diameter round drupes with woody seeds that turn from green to red, pink or purplish, carried in dense clusters of hundreds of berries that can be present year-round. The rough grayish bark is twisted and drips sap. The bark, leaves and berries are aromatic when crushed.

The mistletoe, Phragmanthera, is a native plant that is parasitizing a non-native tree. Both produce fruit that birds feed upon and subsequently disperse the seeds in their droppings. Birds came to feed on the berries of Schinus while carrying seeds of the Phragmanthera!

Anacardiaceae -- Sumac Family

More Information:


Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 25 March 2014