English: it is commonly known as; pepper tree, California pepper tree, Chilean pepper tree, mastic tree, molle, pepper berry tree, weeping pepper, Peruvian mastic, pink pepper and Peruvian pepper tree: Kikuyu (Mubiribiri); Swahili (mpilipili); Luhya (Ipilipili).
|Distribution of Schinus molle in Kenya|
© Maundu P. and Bo Tengnas. (2005). Useful trees and shrubs for Kenya, World Agroforestry Centre.
General Information about the Tree:
|A flowering pepper tree|
|© Bo Tengnas|
Propagation and Tree Management
- Food: While not considered poisonous, the berries are not normally eaten. In Mexico, the fruit is ground and mixed with other substances to form beverages. The seeds are sometimes used to adulterate pepper.
- Apiculture: S. molle is suitable for bee forage.
- Fuel: The wood of S. molle can be burned as both firewood and charcoal.
- Timber: Heartwood is a dull, light red, deepening upon exposure and becoming more or less purplish and rather oily looking; distinct but not sharply demarcated from the brownish-grey sapwood; moderately hard and heavy, specific gravity (air-dry) 0.54 - 0.68; texture medium to fine, uniform; grain variable, often irregular; very easy to work; durability high; wood is termite resistant and therefore suitable for posts.
- Gum or resin: The tree produces an aromatic resin used as a mastic.
- Latex or rubber: Latex is produced from many parts of the tree.
- Tannin or dyestuff: Bark is used for tanning skins.
- Essential oil: The fruit contains a volatile oil and has a flavour resembling that of a mixture of fennel and pepper. The oil of S. molle exhibits significant activity against several bacterial species, such as Alcaligenes faecalis, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The oil also shows the maximum toxic activity against fungus during the screening of some essential oils against some common storage and animal pathogenic fungi.
- Alcohol: An intoxicating liquor known as "copalocle" or "copalote" is obtained by fermenting the fruit with pulque for 1-2 days.
- Poison: The hanging strings of little pink berries of this attractive ornamental tree are reputed to be moderately poisonous, particularly the seed. Leaves are an insect repellant. The pollen, on contact or when inhaled, can cause dermatitis and asthmatic reactions. The tree also has antimicrobial, antifungal, piscicidal and viricidal properties.
- Medicine: Leaf juice is used to treat ophthalmia and rheumatism; a bark extract infusion is used for diarrhoea, and resin of the bark is a dangerous purgative. Other known medicinal properties of the tree include using it as an astringent, a balsamic, diuretic, expectorant, masticatory, stomachic, tonic and vulnerary. The ailments it is known to treat include amenorrhoea, bronchitis, gingivitis, gonorrhoea, gout, tuberculosis, tumour, ulcer, urethritis, wart, wounds, and urogenital and venereal diseases.
- Erosion control: The tree is planted for soil conservation. Shade or shelter: The wide, multibranched crown provides good shade and acts as a suitable windbreak.
- Ornamental: S. molle is commonly planted as an ornamental; it offers lacy, delicate evergreen foliage, a sculptural, twisted branch structure and an attractive textured bark. Ripe berries are often cut and used fresh or dried in floral displays. The tree has been grown as an indoor bonsai.
- Boundary or barrier or support: It is sometimes planted as a live fence
Pests and Diseases
Susceptible to scale and psyllid damage; it harbours black scale, which is a serious pest of the Citrus species; in soggy situations it can be prone to root rot.