The Brazilian pepper tree, or Schinus terebinthifolius, as known by its scientific name, is a tree which is native not only to the country of Brazil, but also, to other parts of South America–such as Argentina and Paraguay. It’s common here in the Sarasota area, where landscape architects avoid it and most landscape designers forego it, although it is a beautiful variety of plant.
Some who call this area home wonder how a tree, sometimes called Florida Holly or Christmasberry, even got to the state of Florida. It was first introduced to the state for decorative purposes due to its bright green leaves and red berries, which is commonly used during Christmas time. The red berries were also dried and used in peppercorn blend cooking spices.
What likely wasn’t widely known at the time is the tree is classified in the same family as Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac, making it less than ideal for yards where children and pets play freely. Allergic reactions, however, don’t have as a severe effect on people as do the other species in its family. Allergic reactions caused by the plant include varying degrees of skin, throat, and lung irritation.
The reason it was probably brought to the US not only for its edible offspring so-to-speak, but because it blooms in the months between September through November. Then, during the month of December the tree produces glossy looking berries grow in clusters that are initially a green color but gradually turn bright red.
About Brazilian Pepper Trees
Unfortunately, there are ill effects to these native Brazilian plants. These trees do kill other vegetation by forming dense thickets and by chemically suppressing the growth of what are known as “understory plants”. Because these trees spread rapidly, they effectively wipe out other kinds and total numbers of wildlife by destroying their usual food and shelter. In addition the pepper plant damages shorelines by disturbing natural fish-breeding habitat through crowding out valuable mangroves, and shallow roots allow erosion.
This shrub/tree is one of the most aggressive and wide-spread of the invasive non-indigenous exotic pest plants in the State of Florida. There are over 700,000 acres in Florida infested with Brazilian pepper tree. Brazilian pepper tree produces a dense canopy that shades out all other plants and provides a very poor habitat for native species. This species invades aquatic as well as terrestrial habitats, greatly reducing the quality of native biotic communities in the state. —University of Florida, Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants
Brazilian pepper grow at a rate of up to 10 feet per year. If the tree is cut down, it will resprout. What’s more, the roots are very difficult to dig up. These trees spread through distribution by birds and animals. Resilient, it’s resistant to natural events like flooding, fire, and even drought. Because they grow near the shoreline, they are of course, able to grow in wet or dry soil, and are salt-tolerant. To top it all off, the state does not have any natural predators to keep them under control.
How to Get Rid of Brazilian Pepper Trees Permanently
Reading the facts above might cause one to throw up one’s hands and just decide to try to burn it out, but that will bring more trouble than it’s worth. Chemicals will probably do the trick, but of course, are a danger to children and family pets, as well as wildlife. Here’s how to get rid of Brazilian pepper trees permanently:
- Dress appropriately. As everyone familiar with this plant knows, it’s a prickly situation. So, dress in thick clothing, wearing gloves, and eye protection to ward off any allergic reactions.
- Cut into the tree. Take a chainsaw to the tree, cutting toward the base of the trunk, leaving about a 6 to 12 inches above the soil.
- Dig a hole around the tree. Using a shovel, begin digging a hole around the root ball, making a wide circle to ensure the whole root system is exposed.
- Pull up all the roots. Dig up the roots and “root” around in the hole, finding and removing any portions of the root system which may have been severed from the ball.
- Backfill the hole to finish. Fill the hole and then, keep a sharp eye on it for the next few weeks. If any sprouts appear, dig them up immediately.
- Sod over the backfill. Once the hole is packed tightly with backfill and soil, install sod over it so the area matches the rest of your yard.
The National Association of Landscape Professionals recently released its list of top residential trends. “Savvy homeowners are seeking smart landscape solutions, which means we’re finding new ways to adapt to environmental elements, making continued advances in technology and taking outdoor living to the next level,” explains Missy Henriksen, Vice President of the NALP.
Simultaneously, there’s a return to more simple planting. Color remains popular because of its beauty. And, homeowners still love eye-catching landscaping but aren’t particularly keen about performing a lot of maintenance to keep in looking great. That’s where technology comes into play. Just as inside the home, smart technology is becoming more ubiquitous, so too is it beginning to take hold with outdoor living spaces. Therefore, designing the best outdoor kitchen includes a step-up from tradition.
6 Most Popular Landscaping Trends for 2017
In today’s environment, there are a few phrases which dominate residential landscaping: smart technology, thoughtful but simplistic design, and sustainability. Homeowners are looking to incorporate technology into their outdoor living space so it’s easier to maintain. Additionally, homeowners still relish professional looking but simple designs. And, sustainability is likewise popular because it reduces the need for precious resources.
Dubbed the slowest of the performing arts, gardening can seem trend proof. After all, you can’t hurry an oak’s progress from acorn to shade tree, and making a garden isn’t like buying a new throw rug for your home but rather stitching a few glimmering threads of your own into nature’s rich tapestry. And yet tastes do change in gardening, as your once-obsessed African violet-growing parents or grandparents could tell you. Those who work with the buying public are especially attuned to what’s hot and what’s not. —Garden Design
For instance, drought tolerant plants for landscapes are a great way to promote sustainability. This helps to maintain soil quality, reduces soil degradation and erosion, and saves water. With a sustainable landscape, your yard becomes more welcoming to a variety of organisms, which increases biodiversity. Moreover, sustainable landscapes require less resources, using less energy, which provides you as a homeowner with more long-term savings. So, here are the six most popular landscaping trends for 2017:
- Variety of greenery. An ongoing trend is to use a variety of greenery in residential landscape designs. It’s the time-tested concept of adding different colors, shades, shapes and more to create eye-catching landscapes. But, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Landscapes can still be simple and sport a variety of eye-pleasing elements. Creating a rainbow effect is one popular landscaping trend for 2017.
- Incorporating “hygge.” Unfamiliar to most people is this Danish concept of “hygge.” Translated, it simply means “fun.” But, that’s a bit misleading. It’s actually the creation of close-knit spaces, where homeowners, families, and guests alike can have intimate and relaxed conversations. By planting aromatic flowers, installing comfortable seating, adding water features, and more, people will truly enjoy an outdoor living space.
- High-tech outdoor kitchens. The popularity of the outdoor kitchen continues to rise and it’s something that goes beyond just a grill with a small seating area. Now, homeowners are adding smart technologies, LED lighting, high-tech refrigerators, televisions, WiFi boosters, and more. Additionally, plenty of prep, work, and serving space is part of a growing trend for many homeowners, particularly in mild-winter climates, like Florida.
- Infusing hardscape features. Waterfalls, pebbles, walkways, pergolas, and more hardscape features are rising in popularity. Decks, patios, and fire pits, are also very popular hardscape features for residential outdoor living spaces. The contrast and function these provide are great for more enjoyment options.
- Installing pollinator gardens. Butterflies, hummingbirds, and honeybees are likewise seeing an increase in popularity. “More homeowners are asking landscape professionals how to select native plantings that are abundant, year-round nectar sources throughout their yards, and the best ways to maintain these natural havens,” the National Association of Landscape Professionals notes.
- Creating beautiful, smart lawns. Advancements in cultivars, which are cultivated grass varieties, are a form of smart grass. So, exactly why would landscape professionals develop cultivar smart grass? Well, it’s because it provides a more hardy variety of grass that’s able to withstand normal weather patterns and even inclement weather events. But, it remains lush and beautiful, making it highly desirable. Cultivars offer a great looking lawn with less maintenance over time.