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Plantidote of the Day 2012-01-24

twig's picture

pepper tree

Schinus molle

California pepper tree (branch)

Those pink berries are peppercorns. If you squish one, it smells like freshly ground pepper. Birds like to eat the peppercorns, and humans probably can, but I'm not certain about that, so you're on your own there. In spite of being big, handsome, drought tolerant trees that provide shade in desert gardens, pepper trees are highly controversial, at least here in Zone 10.

One problem is that pepper trees are messy when all the peppercorns are dropping, and the roots lift sidewalks and house foundations if the trees are planted too close. But the real issue is that some people consider the trees to be invasive. Well, get over it! They're also fast-growing and fire retardant, two pluses in my book. And the combination of graceful, feathery branches and gloriously gnarled trunks just makes some of us love them more!

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Readers, please send twig (twig4now@gmail.com) images and stories for the ongoing Plantidote of the Day series. In exchange, you'll win undying fame in the form of a hat tip! Plants growing in your garden, your house, or neighbor's yard, plants from the forest or farmers' market, plants you preserved, plants you prepared (wine; cider; tea; dried beans), plants you harvested (grains; chanterelles), plants you picked (flowers), plants you dried (herbs), plants you covet or hope to grow someday. Herbal remedies, propagation tips, new varieties, etc.. And if you can, include some solid detail about the plant, too -- a story, the genus and species, or where you got the seeds, or the recipe, or your grandmother gave it to you. Or challenge us with a "Name That Plant" mystery entry ... And please feel free to add corrections and additional information in the comments.

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