Why Brazilian Pepper Trees are BadIf you have a Brazilian pepper tree in your yard, you’re certainly not alone. The tree is very common in the Sunshine State, from south Florida, up into the Tampa Bay area, and beyond. But, why is it here if it’s from the country of Brazil? Simple. It’s a foreign species brought to here many decades ago. And, it’s a very hearty tree. In fact, Brazilian pepper is one of the most difficult to kill off.
This shrub/tree is one of the most aggressive and wide-spread of the invasive non-indigenous exotic pest plants in the State of Florida. There are over 700,000 acres in Florida infested with Brazilian pepper tree. Brazilian pepper tree produces a dense canopy that shades out all other plants and provides a very poor habitat for native species. This species invades aquatic as well as terrestrial habitats, greatly reducing the quality of native biotic communities in the state. —University of Florida, Center for Aquatic and Invasive PlantsHowever, this isn’t why Brazilian pepper is bad. It’s harmful because it takes up natural resources that native trees and plants desperately need. Plus, it complicates things further because it’s very aggressive with its reproduction. As a result, it chokes out native species. That in turn, impacts not only the plant world, but insects and animals, as well. Not to mention, it can successfully live through drought, fight off disease, and it can also sustain a lot of mechanical damage.
Removing Brazilian Pepper Trees for GoodAll of this is to say, if you want to do Brazilian pepper tree removal right, you’ll have to do more than just cut it down. If you cut the tree down, it will simply grow back. Here’s how to remove Brazilian pepper for good:
- Start with herbicide. Get the right herbicide from a local home improvement store or nursery. Be sure to ask which is most effective. Then, follow the manufacturer’s directions for the best results. Allow time for the tree to die before you proceed further.
- Cut off the branches. Once the Brazilian pepper tree is dead, it’s time to cut off the branches. Exercise caution because thorns will remain sharp. Strip the branches from the tree and wear proper skin protection.
- Cut through the tree trunk. Next, cut through the tree trunk. Cut into the trunk about 6 to 12 inches from the ground and try to avoid skin contact. (Some people have allergic reactions to the species.)
- Unearth the entire root ball. Lastly, you’ll need to dig up the whole root ball. (If you don’t, it could well grow back.) Dig around and under the root ball and then extract it from the ground. Backfill the hole and sod thereafter.