Broad-leaf pepper tree (Schinus terebinthifolius)

WEED ALERT: REGIONALLY PROHIBITED WEED
If you see this plant contact your council weeds officer, the NSW Invasive Plants & Animals Enquiry Line 1800 680 244 or email weeds@dpi.nsw.gov.au
  • Also known as: Brazilian pepper tree

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Impact

Broad-leaf pepper tree, Schinus terebinthifolius, also known as Brazilian pepper tree, is an invasive tree. A native of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, it was originally introduced and promoted as an ornamental shrub. It is now a serious threat to Australians ecosystems, particularly in coastal regions, riparian zones and wetlands.

Broad-leaf pepper tree is a serious environmental weed and is listed on numerous regional and council environmental weed lists as a priority tree for control and definitely not to be planted.

Broad-leaf pepper tree may be poisonous to humans and animals. It contains toxic resins and is a relative of the rhus tree and poison Ivy. Some people may suffer severe itching, lesions, rashes, reddening and swelling of the face, running sores and welts associated with the sap and flowering trees. The tree is rarely eaten by livestock but is reportedly toxic to some animals and birds.

In Florida massive bird kills have been recorded from ingesting the fruit. Horses resting beneath shade trees have developed dermatitis and swollen faces with similar problems seen in some humans.

In agricultural areas it also forms dense woody stands that shade out pasture and interfere with stock watering and mustering.

It is an alternate host for a mango black spot disease and a host of witches broom diseases in citrus.

Distribution

Broad-leaf pepper tree is an invasive weed overseas, in Hawaii and Florida. It is also recorded as a weed in other mainland USA states, Bahamas, South Africa, New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland. It dominates many areas of native vegetation in Florida, the Bahamas and all the islands of Hawaii.

Current distribution in NSW extends from the Queensland border south to the mid-north Coast region. Naturalised plants are generally uncommon and most of the infestations are as yet only localised having spread from nearby cultivated trees. In south-eastern Queensland there are large naturalised populations of broad-leaf pepper tree. In Queensland dense infestations occur on waterlogged or poorly drained soils in coastal areas. At a few locations it has formed an understorey within mature stands of swamp oak and along the edges of mangrove forest. In and around Brisbane it has become quite widespread and populations have greatly increased in the last 5 years.

In northern NSW isolated borad-leaf pepper plants are found in the Tweed Council, Mullumbimby, Byron Bay, Ballina, Lismore, west of Casino, at Saphire Beach near Coffs Harbour, Sawtell, Nambucca Heads, and Taree areas. Since declaration in 2003 many infestations have been greatly reduced and some have even been eradicated. It has great potential to spread further in NSW.

It has been reported as spreading in National Parks and Nature Reserves in the Tweed region and in Nature Reserves in Lismore. Isolated pockets of the tree are also suspected to be present further south in coastal NSW. Broad-leaf pepper tree occurs on Council land, parks, reserves, roadsides and private property. Most infestations found can be traced back to mature cultivated trees.

Distribution Maps

Spread

Broad-leaf pepper tree is primarily spread through seed dispersal by birds and mammals. The tree produces bright red berries that are attractive to frugivores or animals that eat fruit. Silver eyes, Figbirds, Currawongs and others are thought to disperse the seed.

Board-leaf pepper tree can also reproduce from root suckers.

Human movement through introduction of broad-leaf pepper tree as an ornamental shrub was responsible for initial spread of the weed. Observations in northern NSW suggest that most infestations have arisen from mature cultivated trees. Coordinated control programs will need to address these trees and remove them as major seed sources.

Seedlings have a high survival rate. Plants reproduce from 3 years of age and overseas they have been recorded to live for about 35 years.

Broad-leaf pepper tree has two obvious physiologically different growth phases; a reproductive growth phase in winter, with the main flowering period during autumn with a secondary smaller peak in spring and a vegetative growth phase during summer. However, flowering may occur throughout the year. Fruiting and seed dispersal occurs predominantly over winter.

Seed viability is 30-60% for up to 2 months. This high seed viability combined with effective animal dispersal contributes to its invasive nature.

Description

Broad-leaf pepper tree is a broad topped, fast growing, multi-stemmed shrub or small tree 1-6 m tall (rarely to 15m). Plants are either male or female.

Leaves are alternate, dark green, with 4-12 opposite leaflets and a terminal leaflet (leaflet at the tip). The leaves often have a slightly winged stem.

Flowers are small and greenish yellow. Female flowers are followed by clusters of green berries that turn red when ripe. Berries are 4-5 mm wide and contain a single kidney-shaped seed.

The leaves and berries have a pepper smell, especially when crushed.

Habitat

Broad-leaf pepper tree is a serious environmental weed. It rapidly colonises disturbed bushland and dominates understorey vegetation. It out-competes and replaces native grasses, ground covers and shrubs, and is shade tolerant. It spreads rapidly on waterlogged or poorly drained soils, but will grow on drier land in higher rainfall areas. Broad-leaf pepper tree has been found growing in a range of habitats from mangrove forests to coastal sand dunes. Thickets of broad-leaf pepper tree also form around water holes, shading out pasture.

Acknowledgements

Author: Rod Ensbey, Regional Weed Control Coordinator, Grafton

Editing and technical review by Annie Johnson, Annette McCaffrey, Birgitte Verbeek, Bill Smith and Barry Jensen.

References

Anderson, T., Diatloff, G. and Panetta, D. (1998). Broadleaved pepper tree Schinus TerebinthifoliusControl in grazing situations. Proceedings of the 6th QLD Weeds Symposium pp. 178-179.

Anderson, T. and Willshere L. (1998). Broadleaved pepper tree and its control. QLD Department of Natural Resource report, Brisbane.

Csurhes, S. and Edwards, R. 91998). Potential environmental Weeds Program. Environment Australia, Canberra.

Gioeli, P. and Langeland, K. (1997). Brazilian pepper-tree control, University of Florida, Cooperative extension Service. Fact sheet SS-AGR-17.

Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) website. http://www.hear.org/pier/scinames.htm

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Control

Broad-leaf pepper tree can be a difficult woody weed to control. The seasonal growth phases may impact on control efficacy and will need to be considered when planning a control program.

Several forms of control, including fire, give unreliable results. During the vegetative growth phase in summer, plants have been observed to quickly regrow from the base as coppice or root suckers. The first step in a control program is to assess the weed problem and situation. You may need to consider, depending on the situation; revegetation with native species, control of other weed species that may be present (e.g. privet, camphor laurel) and follow up maintenance and treatment of the site.

Manual Control

Isolated seedlings can be removed by hand pulling or digging. This is only practical for small infestations. Cultivated large trees may be cut down and the stump dug up and removed. Care should be taken to avoid moving fruit when manually controlling mature trees.

When cutting down broad-leaf pepper trees avoid contact with the sap as allergic reactions or a rash may occur.

Herbicide Control

Herbicide control is effective using the cut stump technique, basal bark, stem injection and foliar application methods. The method used depends on the situation, tree size, access and personal preferences.

Results from research work undertaken in Queensland have shown that foliar applications are far more effective during the early fruiting stage.

Herbicide options

WARNING - ALWAYS READ THE LABEL
Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website www.apvma.gov.au

See Using herbicides for more information.


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2020
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Roundup®)
Rate: 1 part glyphosate to 50 parts water
Comments: Spray seedlings and coppice shoots.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2020
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Roundup®)
Rate: 1 part glyphosate to 1.5 parts water
Comments: Cut stump/scrape stem application for saplings. Stem injection application large trees and shrubs.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


Fluroxypyr 333 g/L (Starane™ Advanced)
Rate: 21 mL per 1 L diesel
Comments: Basal bark application.
Withholding period: 7 days.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Fluroxypyr 333 g/L (Starane™ Advanced)
Rate: 300 mL per 100 L water
Comments: Foliar spray.
Withholding period: 7 days.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Picloram 44.7 g/kg + Aminopyralid 4.47 g/L (Vigilant II ®)
Rate: Undiluted
Comments: Cut stump/stem injection application. Apply a 3–5 mm layer of gel for stems less than 20 mm. Apply 5 mm layer on stems above 20 mm .
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


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Legal requirements

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Noxious Weeds (Weed Control) Order 2014 published in the NSW Government Gazette, detailing weeds declared noxious in New South Wales, Australia, under the Noxious Weeds Act 1993. The Order lists the weed names, the control class and the control requirements for each species declared in a Local Control Authority area.

Area Class Legal requirements
Ashfield 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Auburn 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Bankstown 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Bellingen 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Blue Mountains 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Botany 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Burwood 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Camden 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Campbelltown 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Canada Bay 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Canterbury 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Clarence Valley 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Coffs Harbour 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Fairfield 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Far North Coast County Council 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Glen Innes Severn 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Gloucester 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Great Lakes 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Greater Taree 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Hawkesbury River County Council 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Holroyd 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Hornsby 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Hunters Hill 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Hurstville 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Kempsey 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Kogarah 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Ku-ring-gai 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Lane Cove 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Leichhardt 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Liverpool 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Manly 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Marrickville 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Mosman 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Nambucca 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
New England Tablelands County Council 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
North Sydney 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Parramatta 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Pittwater 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Port Macquarie-Hastings 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Randwick 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Rockdale 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Ryde 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Strathfield 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Sutherland 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Sydney 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Tenterfield 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Warringah 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Waverley 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Willoughby 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Wollondilly 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Woollahra 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant

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Ripe broad-leaf pepper tree berries are attractive to birds
Ripe broad-leaf pepper tree berries are attractive to birds (Photo: R Ensbey)

Broad-leaf pepper trees were grown as ornamentals
Broad-leaf pepper trees were grown as ornamentals (Photo: Rod Ensbey)

Broad-leaf pepper tree has a terminal leaflet.
Broad-leaf pepper tree has a terminal leaflet. (Photo: Drawing by Rod Spicer)

Large broad-leaf pepper trees invading a riparian zone
Large broad-leaf pepper trees invading a riparian zone (Photo: Rod Ensbey)