|Schinus terebinthifolius, a flowering branchlet from a female tree.|
It's becoming a bit of a problem weed in New Zealand and worrying some weed experts. Back in 1988, Flora of New Zealand Vol. 4 didn't record it as naturalised (Webb et al. 1988), but now it seems to be establishing. It's a major weed in many warmer countries. The trees in Sunnynook Park don't seem to be spreading, although there appear to be suckers coming up from the roots. Most of the trees there are male, but I did spot a couple of females.
It seems a lot of our new weeds are woody, and many are bird-dispersed. I wonder how many originate from more tropical climates and owe their success here to climate change.
The Flora says it has 5–9 leaflets. The leaf I randomly chose to photograph had 11:
|Schinus terebinthifolius leaf|
Pink pepper is in the family Anacardiaceae, the same family as mango, cashew, and poison ivy; some people are very allergic to this family. According to McGee (2004) it owes its peppery flavour to cardanol, an irritating phenolic compound.
McGee, H. 2004. On food and cooking, the science and lore of the kitchen. (Revised edition), Scribner.
Webb, C.J.; Sykes, W.R.; Garnock-Jones, P.J. 1988. Flora of New Zealand Vol. 4. Botany Division, DSIR.