Which one of these is the invasive Brazilian pepper tree and which one is the native holly tree? Can you tell the difference?
Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius) is a very invasive, non-native tree. Unfortunately, with its bright red berries that become quite obvious this time of year, it sometimes gets used as a holiday decoration. Worse yet, it has been misnamed Florida holly. Make no mistake – this is NOT Florida holly!
Brazilian pepper is one of the most aggressive, non-native invasive species. Once ecologically productive mangrove communities are now pure stands of Brazilian pepper trees. Scrub and pine flatwood communities have also been destroyed by this invasive tree. It can be easily identified by its compound leaf (odd-pinnately compound) with 3 to 13 oblong or elliptic, finely toothed leaflets. The leaves smell like turpentine when crushed. Berries are in clusters. They start off green and turn a bright red when ripe.