Scientific: Schinus molle
Common: California pepper tree, Peruvian mastic or pepper tree
Family: Anacardiaceae
Origin: Peru to Brazil

Pronounciation: SKY-nus MOL-ley

Hardiness zones
8, 9, 12-24 (difficult in zone 13)
USDA 9-11

Landscape Use: Weeping accent tree that sometimes performs poorly in lower desert landscapes; a true California transplant.

Form & Character: Evergreen tree, open spreading canopy, strong pendulous habit, Spanish or hacienda architecture, graceful.

Growth Habit: Young branches are strongly pendulous, moderate fast to 40 feet with greater spread.

Foliage/Texture: Aromatic, bright to light green, glaborus, odd pinnately compound, 15 to 41 leaflets; fine texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Yellow green flowers in terminal panicles, fruit rose colored, small and rounded in clustered, elongated panicles, strongly aromatic.

Seasonal Color: Flowers in spring, followed by fruit in fall and winter

Temperature: High summer heat exacerbates iron chlorosis.

Light: Full sun

Soil: Well drained

Watering: Regular

Pruning: Suckers profusely at the base so frequent removal is a must. Elevate canopy base rigorously to compensate for strong weeping habit. Needs staking and training when young.

Propagation: Seed

Disease and pests: Root rot pathogens in poorly-drained soils.

Additional comments: California pepper tree is well known in southern and central California. However, its performance in central Arizona desert landscapes is generally poor with trees prone to moderate to severe leaf chlorosis (yellowing) especially if planted in wet sites such as a well-irrigated turf grass lawn.

Dried fruit of Schinus molle are called "pink peppercorns" because they have a peppery flavor. The traditional black pepper that is so familiar to us is actually from a vining plant, Piper nigrum, which is native to south India.