False pepper

Question: is my schinus dead?

Hi! I have a "false pepper / pink pepper" tree (Schinus molle) in the garden for about 3 years. In February, due to snow and low temperatures, it started to lose its leaves. In March I pruned the plant but it seems dead: zero leaves. It's normal? Are there any hopes? I await an answer and in the meantime thank you! Happy gardening to everyone !! ;-)

False pepper: Answer: the false pepper

Dear Maria Silvana,
the Schinus molle is a small tree of South American origin; over the decades this little tree has been cultivated all over the world, and in many areas it has become so naturalized that it has become a pest; also in Italy it is cultivated successfully, remaining however a slightly delicate tree. Although it can easily withstand winter temperatures even of many degrees below zero, close to -15 ° C, it can certainly be damaged by very intense frosts, which last for weeks. In addition to this, it fears winter humidity a lot, and therefore very rainy winters can cause, even to trees that have been in place for some time, even serious damages, ranging from a sudden defoliation, to the death of entire branches, until the death of the whole tree. Unfortunately, the 2011-2012 winter was a decidedly very cold season, especially in January and February, with temperatures long below zero, a little throughout Italy, and even in areas where winters are traditionally very mild. Snow was also added to the frost, which caused strong soil humidity in the first spring weeks; to add to this picture, the months of March and April 2012 were decidedly fresh, and therefore in many areas the snow-covered ground was not completely thawed for many weeks, and the water resulting from the thaw remained long in the substrate. Perhaps for all these reasons your schinus has suffered; but I believe that, since it is a fairly strong tree, you can hope that it will recover. It is clear that if in the spring months it does not produce any kind of sprout, not even basal suckers directly from the roots, the plant is to be considered completely deceased, and you will have to replace it.