"To protect and restore the Florida coastal and Indian River Lagoon ecosystems
through education, research and community stewardship."

Invasive Plant Removal

Brazilian Pepper


Brazilian Pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius) is an invasive exotic tree that was imported from Brazil in the early 1800’s for its ornamental value. Due to its thick crop of red berries from December-February, it became known as Florida holly. It fast took hold and has been wreaking havoc on the native landscape ever since. Brazilian Pepper is found extensively throughout Volusia County. The berries can be carried by wind and water, or spread by birds, squirrels and other animals. Once the seed germinates, the tree grows rapidly, outcompeting native vegetation and forming dense impenetrable thickets where no other plants can grow.

It is very important to remove any trees that are accessible, not only from our parks, wetlands and wild areas, but also from private properties. The steps below will result in successful removal of Brazilian Pepper.

1. Ensure that this plant has been correctly identified prior to removal. Do not handle without skin protection, as it is in the poison ivy family.

2. Prepare for removal by wearing long pants, sleeves, closed shoes, and eye protection.

3. A chainsaw may be necessary if the tree is large. Saplings can be ½’’ high, but mature trees can be 30’ high with a diameter of 12’’. Smaller trees under 2’’ in diameter can be pruned to ground level using pruning shears. With larger trees, use a chainsaw and be aware that many of the limbs are under tension and can cause injury if not cut properly.

4. Tree should be cut leaving just a stump at ground level, and immediately (within 5 minutes) needs an application of herbicide, otherwise the treatment will not penetrate the stump and kill the roots. If the stump is left untreated, or treated too late, it will regenerate quickly.

5. HERBICIDE: Should contain the product TRICLOPYR or GLYPHOSATE. This may be purchased at local hardware stores such as Ace, or Lowe’s. Recommended herbicides are: Brush B Gone, Tough Brush Killer, or Round Up super Concentrate. These 3 products are excellent for resilient plants. The herbicide can be sprayed or painted onto the stump; however, it is recommended not to spray around areas where other plants are growing. If the tree is close to the water, a treatment such as Rodeo is recommended.

6. Brazilian Pepper is dioecious, ie. There are male and female plants. Only the female produces the berries. They ripen from December to February, begin to drop in March and April, and flowering occurs in summer. Thus, summer is the best time to remove Brazilian Pepper, to reduce the spread of the berries.

7 . Once the Brazilian Pepper has been removed, it is necessary to monitor the area for regeneration from the cut stump, and be on the lookout for seedlings that have germinated. They should be pulled, and the stump cut again and immediately treated.

8. Another way to destroy Brazilian Pepper in the basal bark method. This is used when it is not desired to use a chainsaw, or when other native vegetation is in the immediate vicinity. It is best to use this method during flowering.
The herbicide is applied (painted) in a wide band around the base of the trunk , about 6’’ from the ground, and should result in the death of the tree within a few weeks.

For more information contact the Marine Discovery Center at 386-428-4828.