Brazilian Pepper Plant - Knowledgebase Question

Largo, FL
Question by Manning1st
December 1, 1999
Here in Florida there is a large tree called a "pepper plant" which is very invasive and everyone trys to get rid of it. Are the berries which turn red edible? - I want to make some herbal vinegar and I wondered if these red peppercorns were the same as they sell in expensive food stores.

Thanks for your help - very pleased I found your web site.

Answer from NGA
December 1, 1999


Brazilian pepper-tree (Schinus terebinthifolius) is one of the most aggressive of the invasive nonindigenous plants in Florida. It is invading aquatic and terrestrial habitats, greatly reducing the quality of native biotic communities in the state. Brazilian pepper is from South America, and was probably introduced as an ornamental in the mid 1800s. Since it is not particularly cold-hardy, the tree occurs mostly in southern Florida.

Brazilian peppers are on the State of Florida's prohibited plant list. It is illegal to cultivate, sell or transport them.

The berries you describe are the seeds of the plant and they are not edible so I wouldn't recommend using them in herbal vinegars. The red berries are definately not the same as the red peppercorns you see in markets.

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