Brazilian Peppertree

Big red button that reads Prohibited
A green-leafed shrub with bright red berries.

Imported from South America in the 1840s, Brazilian peppertree quickly spread into natural areas, taking over native tree hammocks, pine flatlands and mangrove forest communities. Once called “Florida holly” for its bright red berries, Brazilian pepper branches were often used as Christmas decorations in Florida.

It’s against the law to sell or purposefully plant Brazilian peppertrees. If you have one in your landscape and want to remove it, be careful: its leaves and sap can irritate the skin. Cut down the plant and spray the stump with herbicide.

Luckily, there are three hollies native to Florida: American, Yaupon, and Dahoon, as well as a hybrid of American and Dahoon, called East Palatka holly. All produce the shiny green leaves and red berries we associate with “Christmas holly.”

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