Schinus molle. PEPPER TREE. Peru
ANACARDIACEAE (Sumac or cashew family)

The pepper tree has long been popular for planting all over the campus and some fine old gnarled specimens can be seen, e.g. across Santa Teresa Street from the New Guinea Garden. Its clear green foliage, sometimes accompanied by cheerful rosy-red fruit, make it a pleasure to look at. Always crush a leaf and sniff the aroma as you go by; but eating the peppercorns may be harmful. Rub your hand over the bark too. Another good tree for sniffing and feeling is the lemon-scented gum. A list of these trees should be made the basis of a tour for blind people. The trunk of the madrone would have to be on the list, and the stringybark tree and the cork oak; seed pods of the various bean family members (silk tree, honey locust, carob, redbud, for example) are interesting too.

A group of old pepper trees stands east of Palm Drive between Arboretum Road and Campus Drive. Young trees growing in lush conditions are on Stanford Avenue south of Bowdoin Street; they were planted in response to a serious attack by psyllids that knocked out many trees. Pepper trees also can be seen on Galvez Mall at the northeast corner of Green Library and across Roble Drive from the New Guinea Garden. They line Raimundo Way between Stanford Avenue and Cedro Way. In Palo Alto, see a full, dense specimen at 3721 La Donna Street. The tree is from the Peruvian Andes: help stamp out the common name California pepper!

Illus.: McMinn, Howard E. and Evelyn Maino. 1951. An illustrated manual of Pacific coast trees; with lists of trees recommended for various uses on the Pacific coast by H. W. Shepherd. 2d ed. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press.

Illustrations (links open new windows): Silhouettes from Trees of Stanford & its Environs

Additions/Revisions:

Name derivation, genus | species Greek name for mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus), which it resembles | molle: Peruvian name fo the pepper tree

Related material: Canopy Trees for Palo Alto Tree Library

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