Schinus terebinthifolius

Brazilian pepper tree

Also known as:

Christmas berry

Family: Anacardiaceae

Origin: South America

Close up of the large Brazilian pepper tree leaves.
The leaves are pungent when crushed with a peppery smell.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • National Pest Plant Accord Species
  • Whole region — Sustained control

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Large shrub or small shrub < 3m tall. Leaves are pinnate and < 17cm long. Flowers are small, white and borne in late summer – autumn. Fruit is fleshy, red and < 6 mm in diameter.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell Brazilian pepper tree. As Brazilian pepper tree is a National Pest Plant Accord species, these restrictions apply within the Auckland region and across the whole of New Zealand.
  • You must not plant Brazilian pepper tree within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • You must destroy any Brazilian pepper tree on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.


Wetlands, mangroves, salt marshes, riparian margins, dunes, cliffs, disturbed sites, roadsides, pasture, wasteland, urban areas.


Seeds are dispersed by birds, mammals and water. Vegetative spread from suckering. Human-mediated dispersal through deliberate planting.

Impact on environment

Displaces native vegetation. Allelopathic, inhibiting growth and abundance of nearby native plants.


Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: Seeds.

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill if practical.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications: Cut stump and paste freshly cut base of stems with metsulfuron gel.

Basic Growsafe certified: Cut stump and spray freshly cut base with 1g metsulfuron-methyl per 1 L of water.

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Drill and inject trees with 10g metsulfuron-methyl per 1L of water if safe to do so. Drill 18mm holes (tangentially angled downwards) in a spiral up the trunk.

For 50mm stems drill one hole. For 100mm stems drill two holes. For larger stems drill holes 150mm apart. Foliar spray seedlings with 5g metsulfuron-methyl per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

A sprig of Brazilian pepper tree seeds.
The flowers are small and white, followed by bright red fruit 4-6mm across.
Photo credit:
Leaves of the Brazilian pepper tree.
Leaves are arranged in pairs.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow
Brazilian pepper tree showing its dense foliage.
Brazilian pepper tree is an evergreen bushy tree.