Schinus molle

Thanksgiving Lamb
Pepperberry, Peppertree

Say it: (Sky-nuss mawl-lay)

Some people think this is pepper. If it was, they could tell everyone to come and get as much as they want. But it’s not. Pepper the spice is in the Piperaceae (Pepper family). It’s Piper nigrum. It’s a vine that is native to Southern India. Pepper the big fruit on bushy little plants like bell peppers and hot peppers, is a new world plant, in the Solanaceae (Potato family). It’s Capiscum. Now that that’s cleared up!

The reason people might really, really want to have pepper nearby is that they are locivores, eating only foods sourced within a certain distance from their home, and they miss pepper.

Pepperberry, Schinus, does have small berries, pink and they smell addictively good. You might find your self just wanting to sniff them again to see if they really smell that good. People have had allergic reactions to the berries and leaves, but they are also considered to be edible. In Chile they are used to flavor wine, in Peru and Brazil to infuse vinegar. They have been used as a Piper pepper substitute and adulterant. Pepperberry has many medicinal uses as well.

The leaves of the tree are compound and drooping. The whole effect of the tree is soft and ferny, with a gnarled, suckering trunk. This South America native is recommended for Xeriscaping, though considered messy. It is invasive in some parts of the US Southwest and Florida.

Pepperberry is popular in floral arranging. It lasts one to two weeks, and can be used dried.

Jo & Helena have these growing on the boulevard in front of their duplex. Over thanksgiving they were a subject of much discussion. Here is something interesting they told about:

Temescal Amity Works is a Bay area social arts project that involves a diverse neighborhood, a custom made cart, a ladder, lots of people’s yards, figs, jam, a store front, a yellow car parade and much more. Check it out:
Temescal Amity Works

About Mulysa

I love my work as a landscape designer and artist. When I'm not planning homesteads or working in the studio, you'll find me hiking, photographing, gardening, baking, cooking vegetarian meals with friends, reading and working on sustainability issues...with my baby on my hip in Portland, Oregon.
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