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simone54's avatar

Is it okay to eat the pink pepper corns out of my yard?

Asked by simone54 (7581points) June 6th, 2012

I have a pink pepper corn tree in my yard. I was wondering if it would be okay to dry them and use them for cooking. Any ideas?

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7 Answers

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Then should be okay,more than okay if its the real thing!!!!

Kardamom's avatar

Oy, this is a tough one. I’ve been reading up for a few hours now (thank you very much LOL) to try to answer this Q.

As far as I can figure, you should not attempt to eat the pink “peppercorns” or berries from your tree as they are likely to be toxic as the plants are related to the poison ivy plant and can cause rashes, breathing problems, vomiting and diarrhea, and some people can even get burns from the leaves and bark.

The FDA banned the import of pink peppercorns from France (where most of them come from) for sale in the United States in 1981 (the ban has since been lifted) because of the potential toxicity. The sale of U.S. grown pink peppercorns is still not allowed. You can read about that Here

The problem isn’t that simple. First of all, you should know that pink “peppercorns” are not actually peppercorns at all and are un-related to black pepper (Piper nigrum) which is a totally different plant. Black peppercorns (and also white and green peppercorns, which are the same thing at different stages of development) grow on a vine, whereas the pink “peppercorns” grow on 2 different kinds of trees, one is called Schinus terebinthifolius or Brazilian Pepper Tree, Christmas Berry and Florida Holly; and Schinus molle , also called Peruvian Pepper Tree, California Pepper Tree or Baies Rose.

The imported French pink “peppercorns” are soley from the species Schinus molle called Baies Rose in France, and even though they are technically the same plant as the Californian or Peruvian Pepper Tree, scientific tests have been done that show that there are different chemical compounds found in the peppercorns from the trees grown in the U.S. which are potentially toxic (that is why they are not sold from U.S. trees) as opposed to the peppercorns which are imported from France and this may have to do with the soil and other conditions in which they are grown and the fruit from U.S. grown trees may contain urushiol-type allergens and cardanoles (not exactly sure what that means, but it ain’t good). Supposedly, the spice grown on the island of RĂ©union (the main producer) is entirely free of urushiols. You can read more about all of this Here

And from other things that I have read, the pink things don’t taste like regular pepper anyway, in the sense that they are not particularly flavorful, and they aren’t hot. People seem to mostly like them because of their pretty color.

IMO bottom line is, don’t eat pink peppercorns from trees in the U.S. If you must try pink peppercorns, it is recommended that you only buy the imported kind, from reputable companies, and then only from the Baies Rose (Schinus molle) plant.

Hain_roo's avatar

I have a Brazilian Pepper tree. Some people do sat them, but it’s nit advised. “Some people are allergic to the fruit and/or leaves. As with anything, pay attention to your body’s reactions when foraging and eating.”

My birds love the berries in the fall when they’ve fermented.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Nature’s liquor store, @Hain_roo!

Hain_roo's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yes, it’s pretty funny. They go bonkers!

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