Schinus molle
Photo by Flickr user josh s jackson

Peruvian pepper tree


  • This plant has a Plant Risk Evaluator rating of High Potential Risk
  • This plant has been rated Limited by the California Invasive Plant Council


Despite being called "California pepper tree" this tree is not native to California. It is native to the Peruvian Andes. It grows quickly to 25-40 ft. tall with gnarled, knotted bark. Clusters of tiny yellowish white flowers are followed by rosy colored berries in the fall, that may be eaten by birds, dispersing the seeds. It is planted more commonly than Schinus terebinthifolius, which is also on PlantRight's list of Plants to Watch.

This tree produces copious litter, is subject to scale infestation, and has greedy surface roots that make it difficult to garden beneath. In Riverside County, slopes are covered by Schinus molle. However, in Contra Costa County it is present but not very invasive, so its invasiveness varies greatly by region. See CalWeedMapper for its distribution in California outside of cultivation.

Why is this plant not included on the invasive plant list?

Schinus molle was considered in 2016 but was not included in the 2016 survey because the impact and risk of this plant is lower compared to other species. For how long it has been grown in California (200 years) and how commonly it has been planted, it has not shown itself to be invasive enough to strongly consider adding it to the list. If it was going to become highly invasive in California, that would have likely happened already.

More information

For more information about this plant, please see the following resources: