California Peppertree (Schinus molle)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
California Peppertree
Schinus molle

An oil from the leaves reduces the surface tension of water[200].

  • Medicinal Use

    A resinous gum obtained from the bark has been used in folk medicine to treat digestive disorders[229].

    A purgative known as ‘American Mastic’ is obtained from the tree[245]. This report is probably linked to the one above[K].

  • Edible Use

    The dried and roasted berries are used as a pepper substitute[46, 177, 181, 183, 200]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

    An (essential?) oil distilled from the fruit is used as a spice in baked goods and candy[183].

    The fruits are pulverised and used in cooling drinks called ‘horchatas’ in S. America[2, 46, 183].

    A wine is made from the twigs and another from the berries[2].

    A gum that exudes from the bark is used for chewing[46, 177].

  • Cautionary Notes

    The seed contains an allergenic substance that can irritate the mucus membrane[200].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in a warm greenhouse in mid spring. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter before planting out in early summer[K]. Cuttings of almost ripe wood, 8cm with a heel, August to early September in a frame. Fair to good percentage[78].
Prefers a well-drained soil in full sun[200]. It likes growing in sandy soils[188] and succeeds in a hot dry position[166]. A fast-growing tree[188] in its native habitat, though it is likely to be much slower in areas where it is marginally hardy[K]. This species is not very hardy outdoors in Britain, though it can succeed when grown against a sunny wall in the milder areas of the country[166, 200]. The oily leaves smell and taste of pepper when they are crushed[245]. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
S. America.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.