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California Pepper Tree

Pepper Tree Diary (Schinus Molle)

The California pepper tree (Schinus Molle), also known as the Peruvian pepper tree, can tolerate many kinds of soil, growing conditions and long periods of drought. The California pepper tree cannot survive freezing temperatures, however, and is hardy only to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 and higher. A very hardy and fast-growing tree, it is considered invasive in some regions of the United States, although it is still widely grown for its low-maintenance, attractive flowers and spicy peppercorns that can be used for cooking. If given the right conditions, California pepper trees can be easily grown from seed.

Weird Bulbous Growths

August 20, 2017 - Odd Bulbs On Leaf Joins

I'm not sure what has happened to the stems.  Some kind of weird bulbs have formed where the leaf stems meet the long branches. These nodules have affected multiple long branches, but the tree continues growing new leaves.

As best I can tell, is the tree became infected with a bacteria that modifies the DNA and causes tumor-like growths on the plant. Eventually these galls will look warty and very large.  The most common bacterial culprit is Agrobacterium tumefaciens.

It is not likely to be deadly and can make some really interesting trunk burrs as the tree develops rough bark and a wide trunk.

June 10, 2017 - We Have A Girl!
Schinus Molle Pepper Berry

It's not much, but we have proof.  Proof by one single pepper berry left on the tree.  I'm not sure what happened to ll the other berries, but there may be more to come.  There were many little flowers on the trees that still have yet to convert to berries.

If not this year, maybe next year we can get loaded up with our very own pink pepper for grinding in our pepper mill.  That would be awesome!

April 25, 2017
Schinus Molle Flower Buds

The peppertree started growing buds!  Hooray!

If we have a female tree, it is likely that we will be harvesting some pink peppercorns in the fall.  If we have a male tree, then we will be out of luck on the pink peppercorn front.

Male or female, the flowers are very attractive to the bees and will aid in adding a little bit of heat to the citrus honey harvest.

Lowe's advertises the trees as pepper bearing so it is possible they sell only female trees.  We will know come fall for certain.

February 11, 2017

My first attempt to grow this tree from seed was a failure. So, instead we found one at Lowe's, a nice straight trunk and easily 12' high marked down to $29. We bought that tree as a replacement tree to shade the beehives in summer.  The bees will love it and it could potentially make our honey a spicy citrus flavor. The tree find was initially posted here.

We bought a half barrel container and miracle grow potting soil at Costco.  We put some soil in, added some ground egg shells and some Mykos powder from Amazon Garden Fertilizers, and watered deeply.  Unfortunatley, it is really hard to see the tree from the background.  The visibility is basically limited to the half barrel pot.

Surprisingly, it wasn't root-bound so the soil had to be detangled from the roots to make contact with the Mykos powder.  Now we wait until fall to manage the outside projects after completing some much needed indoor projects.

Pink Peppercorns
We are looking forward to growing and harvesting some pink peppercorns. Aliya LeeKong extols some very positive comments about these pink berries and how to use pink peppercorns in cuisine.

Beware that these are related more to the cashew family and as such may cause allergic reactions.  I do not know if the allergy causing properties would cause a reaction as a flavor source in our honey.

It also seems to be an ingredient in an IPA beer, which gets a decent rating.

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