Brazilian pepper should not be cultivated because a) it is disruptive of natural communities and species; b) it causes skin rashes and respiratory irritation in many people. Brazilian pepper plants should be cut off near the ground and the stump painted with a systemic herbicide such as Roundup® or Garlon®.
Does your child, or the neighbor’s child, come in from playing with a skin rash or a respiratory problem? It could be your Brazilian pepper, or the neighbor’s, which is causing it. You may like using the berries for home decorating, but there are safer berry sources.
An alternative source of Christmas berries is the Yaupon or Dahoon holly tree. These two hollies are also a source of caffeine and antioxidants if a tea is made from boiling their dried leaves for 10 minutes or less. However, their berries are only for the birds…literally! (There is a chance for nausea if you boil the leaves longer than 10 minutes.)
Notice the leaves of the Brazilian pepper tend to be wider, more oval shaped, and the veins are more pronounced, while the Dahoon and Yaupon holly leaves are waxier, smaller and more elongated.