Leaves and fruit of Brazilian pepper | Photo credit: Larry Korhnak, University of Florida
This invasive exotic tree - commonly found on roadsides throughout Florida - is also known as Florida holly and Christmas berry. A fast growing, prolific seed producer that can be spread by seeds and cuttings, its aggressive growth quickly out competes native vegetation.
Originally brought to Florida in the early 1800's from South America as a showy ornamental, some estimates now claim it covers more than 700,000 acres of the state.
The Brazilian pepper is often seen as a large dense shrub, or small tree with many stems. It is in the same taxonomic family as poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. It is known to cause irritation, as well as respiratory problems when in bloom.