Anacardiaceae (cashew family) Schinus

Schinus polygama Chilean pepper tree

Old Schinus polygama on Campus Drive. Sairus Patel, 6 Jan 2023
Schinus polygama fruiting on Lane B. Sairus Patel, 21 Aug 2022

This pepper tree or shrub differs significantly from the other two pepper trees that are more widespread on campus: it has spines on the ends of the shoots, and the leaves are not pinnate but simple and only about an inch long. When crushed they do not have a strong odor. The very small yellow flowers make a fine display in summer and are followed by clusters of dark purple peppercorns.

An old specimen is on Campus Drive near the Anderson Collection. Others, in both tree form and hedged, can be found on Lane B near Coronado Avenue.

As with S. terebinthifolius, its name was changed from S. polygamus to S. polygama when a 2015 paper in Phytotaxa revealed the true gender of Schinus.

Schinus polygama leaves are simple, alternate and sometimes also fascicled and whorled. John Rawlings, ca. 2005

Name derivation: Schinus – Greek name for mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus), which it resembles; polygamahaving both imperfect (pistillate and/or staminate) flowers and perfect flowers on the same plants.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. Species name updated to polygama, ref. Zona, S. (2015), The correct gender of Schinus (Anacardiaceae), Phytotaxa 222(1):76; locations updated; removed locations in redwood grove east of Herrin Hall and outside the fence of the southeast side of Frost Amphitheater (Sep 2023, SP).