By Meaghan English, TrueSouth Properties Wildlife Specialist
“Mimosa” has become a buzz word associated with bridal luncheons and brunches and bubbly parties. Unlike the fruity breakfast drink, the tree has a quite a different connotation. Known for its pink fluffy flowers, the mimosa tree has become widespread throughout the southeast and continues to flourish. Unfortunately this species is not native to the United States and is becoming very difficult to eradicate.
Introduced from Asia around 1745, the mimosa tree or silktree (Albizia julibrissin) is a highly invasive tree that can be found throughout the Southeastern states. It stands about 50 feet tall at maturity and has very infamous leaves. The leaflets look like those of ferns and at a distance, the leaves look feathery. The crown of the tree is not round or conical; it appears to cascade or wander. In late spring through summer the tree will begin to put on bright pink, wispy flowers. These flowers are also accompanied by “bean pods” which a signature characteristic of a legume. Along with the brilliant color of the flowers and the shade the tree can provide, it quickly became a desirable ornamental for many homeowners. As the tree became more and more popular, many biologists and dendrologists began to learn of all the negative aspects of this tree. It thrives on any soil (wet or dry) and can persist in shade or in full sunlight. It is most commonly found in clumps at abandoned home sites or old fields. Worst of all, this invasive species deters wildlife from native vegetation. When the seeds from the pod emerge, they are either swept away by the wind or ingested by wildlife and later absorbed by the soil. It is best to eradicate this species from your property by any means possible. Although it is a nitrogen-fixer, it displaces native and more nutritious forage for wildlife.
Do not be fooled by the overall aesthetics of this tree! Although it is soothing to the eye, it will become a pain in your backside in no time. It is best to begin the removal process even if you only have one tree present on your property. By doing so, you are removing a species that harms the natural ecosystem and habitat in the Southeast.
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