Herb: California Peppertree


Latin name: Schinus molle


Family: Anacardiaceae (Cashew Family, Sumac Family)



Medicinal use of California Peppertree:

A resinous gum obtained from the bark has been used in folk medicine to treat digestive disorders. A purgative known as "American Mastic" is obtained from the tree. This report is probably linked to the one above.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Tree

Height:
8 m
(26 feet)

Flovering:
April
to June


Scent:
Scented
Tree

Habitat of the herb:

Dry regions in the Andes, it is found as a bush in dry lands but reaches tree size in dry river beds with accessible underground water.

Edible parts of California Peppertree:

The dried and roasted berries are used as a pepper substitute. 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. The fruits are pulverised and used in cooling drinks called "horchatas" in S. America. A wine is made from the twigs and another from the berries. A gum that exudes from the bark is used for chewing.

Other uses of the herb:

An oil from the leaves reduces the surface tension of water.

Propagation of California Peppertree:

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. Cuttings of almost ripe wood, 8cm with a heel, August to early September in a frame. Fair to good percentage.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry regions in the Andes, it is found as a bush in dry lands but reaches tree size in dry river beds with accessible underground water.

Known hazards of Schinus molle:

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

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.