Peruvian Peppercorn

In America, this tree can be found in Southern California, Hawaii, and Florida. They are quite abundant in Los Angeles and the bay area of San Francisco, so it's quite an easy one to forage.


Schinus molle is a quick growing evergreen tree that grows up to 15 meters (50 feet) tall and wide. It is the largest of all Schinus species and potentially the longest lived. The upper branches of the tree tend to droop. The tree's pinnately compound leaves measure 8–25 cm long × 4–9 cm wide and are made up of 19-41 alternate leaflets. Male and female flowers occur on separate plants (dioecious). Flowers are small, white and borne profusely in panicles at the ends of the drooping branches. The fruit are 5–7 mm diameter round drupes with woody seeds that turn from green to red, pink or purplish, carried in dense clusters of hundreds of berries that can be present year round. The rough grayish bark is twisted and drips sap. The bark, leaves and berries are aromatic when crushed.

See the Wikipedia page for pictures of the distinctive bark and berries.


The ripened peppercorns can be used as a fruity spicy addition to dishes, particulary for seafood, salads, curries, cheese, chocolate, or popcorn. "spicy and peppery, but have a very fragrant, sweet-tart and rosy tone."



Use these dried peppercorns with mortar and pestle or crushed with the flat side of a knife to release their oils. They can also be roasted prior to use to release more aromatics. They can also be mixed with regular peppercorns, but can easily be overwhelmed, and the thin skin can clog the pepper grinder. Interestingly, they can also be used whole, as they are milder than other types of peppercorns.

The potency will start to decline six months or so after preparation.



Last modified: 202404161425