Brazilian pepper tree puts child in danger in Cape Coral

CAPE CORAL, Fla., — After a family moved into their new Cape Coral home, they noticed a Brazilian pepper tree right next door. They say the tree could put their son in the hospital for weeks. 

“With my son being sick and other children in the area, it’s just an immediate threat," explained Jill Mullin, mother to 7-year-old Maximus. 

Mullin says her son suffers from a poor immune system and getting bad mosquito bites can lead to severe swelling and a long stay in the hospital. She says the pepper tree has still water underneath, playing host to thousands of mosquitos. 

“If it was on our property, I would be glad to take it down myself, but because it’s not there are some legal issues, our hand are tied," said Mullin. 

The mother of six says while the tree is growing on their house property, the roots remain on a city-owned lot.

Fox 4 received this statement from the City on they are handling the situation. 

"The City has a program to remove invasive species from vacant parcels. We use monies from the lot mowing fund. There are many properties already on the list for pepper tree removal.  “But we are looking at this particular situation to see what might be done.”

Florida Fish and Wildlife say the Brazilian pepper is the state's most widespread non-native invasive plant, covering more than 700,000 acres.

While Mullin waits for the tree to be taken care of, she says her family has extended their lease on their old home to make sure the kids remain safe. 

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