A common invasive plant that has aggressively spread throughout the central and south peninsula up into Levy County on the west coast, to Duval County on the east coast, plus Franklin County in the panhandle. Native to Brazil, Schinus terebinthifolia
is now also present in Hawaii, California, Texas, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
The conspicuous clusters of bright red drupes - or berries - are most numerous from November through February, but may be present at any time of the year. The leaves are alternate, pinnately compound with three to nine leaflets (rarely 11). The leaflets are lanceolate to elliptic, up to 8cm (~3 in.) long, often with toothed margins. Flowers are small and white, numerous in clusters growing from the leaf axils. Brazilian peppertree grows to 8 meters (26 ft.) tall, and will form extensive monospecific stands, out-competing native plants.
The species name terebinthifolia
refers to the turpentine odor of the leaves. As with a number of other members of the Anacardiaceae
family, Brazialian peppertree has poisonous qualities. People with a sensitivity to poison ivy should especially avoid contact with this plant.
The small drupes are eaten by many birds, especially mockingbirds, robins and cedar waxwings, which then distribute the seeds in their droppings.