A Peppery Problem

Brazil Pepper arrived in Bermuda in the 1950s and took an immediate shine to the island. It now covers large swathes of land, outcompeting native plants and altering the habitat forever – you’ll find it in parks, gardens, growing out of cracks in the wall and even edging out mangrove. It can grow up to 20ft (6m) high and is on the IUCN list of the 100 most invasive species worldwide.

Identification of this tree, also known as Mexican pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius) is made easier by the flurry of little white flowers that both male and female trees produce in autumn (September / October) and, in some cases, again in spring (March  – May). The red berries ripen in November or December. The tree has become useful for apiarists (bee-keepers) because it provides pollen when most other species have finished flowering.

Gardeners can help the efforts to remove this highly invasive plant by getting rid of it in their gardens – the best way is the pull up saplings before they get established; once the tree gets larger, you would need to treat the stumps with herbicide after cutting the tree down. Since the tree is in the same family as poison ivy, gloves should be worn. At the very least, make sure to  remove the berries from the female trees before they ripen.

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