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How to Kill a Brazilian Pepper Tree

Warning

Exposure to the inner bark of freshly cut Brazilian pepper trees can result in a skin rash. Wear gloves, long-sleeve shirts, long pants and eye protection when cutting Brazilian pepper trees.

Native to central South America, the Brazilian pepper tree was originally introduced to Florida as an ornamental plant in the mid-1800s for its attractive foliage and clusters of small, bright red fruits. The plant eventually escaped cultivation and has since become a serious problem in south and central Florida as an aggressive and invasive species, with nearly all ecosystems in these regions being affected by its spread. Currently, eradication practices within the state actively seek out and destroy these plants combining physical removal with both foliar and basal bark herbicide applications.

Cut Brazilian pepper trees down to just above ground level with the machete. Immediately spray the stumps with a triclopyr ester or glyphosate-based herbicide. Use this method when the trees do not bear fruit to avoid spreading pepper tree seeds.

Apply a coating of triclopyr ester premixed with penetrating oil to the trunk of uncut trees between 10 and 12 inches above the ground line on the bark of the trunk. The plant will absorb the herbicide and effects should be noticeable over the next few weeks. The best time to apply this herbicide is in the fall, during flowering, according to the University of Florida.

Apply triclopyr ester or glyphosate-based herbicides as a spray to new seedlings. Completely cover the leaves of the seedlings. Use foliar sprays with care to prevent overspray from damaging desirable ornamental plants and trees.

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