Schinus terebinthifolius – Brazilian Peppertree
Other Common Names: Brazilian Pepper, Brazilian Pepper-tree, Christmas Berry
Schinus terebinthifolius is a flowering plant that is native to tropical and subtropical areas in South America. It belongs to the cashew family, Anacardiaceae, and is known by its common names like Christmasberry, Wilelaiki, Broadleaved Pepper Tree, Rose Pepper, Aroeira, and Brazilian Pepper Tree.
It is an evergreen plant, which means it has leaves all throughout the year. It normally grows 3 to 10 meters tall, although sometimes, it can also reach up to 15 meters. The trunk is normally 10 to 30 centimeters in diameter, but depending on the height, it can also reach up to 60 centimeters. It has a gray and fairly smooth bark, with long and flat ridges, and light brown, finely haired twigs, when young.
The leaves of the Brazilian Peppertree are alternate pinnate, growing anywhere from 7.5 to 15 centimeters in length. The leaves have 5 to 15 leaflets that are lanceolate to elliptical in shape, growing from 3 to 5 centimeters long and 2 to 3.5 centimeters broad.
It is a dioecious plant, which means that it only has either male or female flowers. The flowers are small and colored white, but because of their size, they tend to blend in with the leaves, especially when seen from a distance.
The flowers produce fruits that are also small and round, growing in clusters. The fruits are bright red in color and normally 4 to 5 millimeters in diameter. They are toxic and can cause a paralyzing effect on birds ingesting the fruit. The sap is also poisonous and can cause rashes, lesions, itching, reddening, and swelling on the skin upon contact.