Botanical Name: Schinus Molle
Common Names: American pepper, Peruvian pepper tree, pirul, molle del Peru, escobilla
What parts of pirul are used?
Almost all parts of the Peruvian pepper tree can be used including the leaves, berries and bark.
How do you identify pirul and where is it grown?
This evergreen tree can be identified by the bunches of bright pink peppercorns that cascade beautifully on long, drooping branches. The pirul can grow tall quite quickly, often reaching 15 feet tall. This plant is a native to the Peruvian Andes and can be found growing in South America, the Andean desert and Central Argentina. It has been naturalized in the United States and Australia, where it has become quite invasive in certain areas.
Historical uses of the Peruvian pepper tree
The Incas had many uses for this evergreen tree including:
- Using the leaves as a natural dye to add a dash of color to their clothes.
- Using the oils to preserve and embalm their dead.
- Creating a syrup by boiling down the berries
- Enjoying an alcoholic drink called chica.
Today the pink berries are used in tea, syrups and beverages across Peru, including Chilean wines.
Traditional preparations of Pirul include added to culinary dishes such as gruels, also syrups and as an additive with other herbs and spices. The leaves are also used in spiritual blessing ceremonies.
Pirul is also utilized by some in forms of teas for individual uses. In this case it is crushes and 1/8 teaspoon or less is added with other herbs then brewed for 10 minutes or more.
Usually Prepared With:
Traditionally Pirul is prepared in beverages, culinary dishes, spices mixes and syrups. One preparation includes adding Pirul to corn maize as a gruel. Other combinations may include herbs and spices such as cinnamon, clove and turmeric.