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Scientific: Schinus molle
Common: California pepper tree, American pepper tree, pepper tree, false pepper, Peruvian peppertree, Peruvian mastic, molle del Peru
Family: Anacardiaceae
Origin: South American, Peru to Brazil

Pronounciation: SKY-nus MOL-ley

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

Landscape Use: Weeping accent tree for parks, greenspaces, and large residential estates that sometimes performs poorly in lower desert landscapes; a true California transplant.

Form & Character: Open, lacy, spreading, yet with a strong pendulous habit, evokes Spanish or hacienda architecture, graceful.

Growth Habit: Evergreen, woody perennial tree, moderate fast to 40 feet with greater spread, young branches are strongly pendulous.

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 extensive staking and training when young.

Propagation: Seed

Disease and Pests: Root rot pathogens in poorly-drained desert 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 because it is prone to moderate to severe leaf chlorosis (yellowing), especially if planted in wet sites such as a well-irrigated turf grass lawn.

Culinary factoid: 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.