California Pepper (Schinus molle)

California Pepper (Schinus molle)

The California Pepper, also known as the Peruvian Pepper tree, from its place of origin, doesn’t need much to thrive. It will withstand drought and full sun and showcase its lacy leaves all throughout the year. It also produces small, pink berries gathered in bunches that droop from the tree branches.

The California pepper trees have become a symbol of Pasadena’s Marengo Avenue, framing the road with their bolted canopies. They are still associated by many with the historic upscale districts of California.

Part of this tree’s exotic charm is its compound leaves, with many narrow leaflets that sway in the light wind, giving the tree a very appealing look. The bark, leaves, and berries of the California Pepper Tree are aromatic, but its fruit is, in fact, different from the pepper we actually use in cooking.

How to Care for and Grow a California Pepper Tree

Caring for a California Pepper Tree is all about planting it in the right climate. It thrives in dry, arid regions and doesn’t need much water to be healthy. It can be planted in just about any type of soil, as long as they are reasonably well-drained.

If you are planting more than one California pepper tree, make sure they are 20 feet apart. This decorative tree can grow up to 50 feet tall and it spreads quite a lot, over 30-40 feet. It reaches maturity in less than 20 years, being a very fast grower.

There’s a certain romanticism about the California Pepper tree. Its exotic appearance and its resistance to arid conditions make it a common choice for gardeners in the South. It’s a lovely shade tree too. It has become so present in Californian postcards and sceneries, that it now carries a permanent association with the sunny state.


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