Posted by John Minton | Posted in Plants | Last Updated February 25, 2014
Tags: Fern Leaves, Fragrant, Pink Flowers, Summer Bloom, Tree
Albizia Julibrissin is probably better known as a Mimosa tree or Persian Silk Tree. Mimosa is a beautiful fern-like tree with fragrant 2 inch pink pompom type flowers that produce seed pods in the winter months. Mimosa trees can reach 30 to 40 feet tall. The smell brings back many childhood memories, it’s a summer blooming tree – in the heavy heat and sun – about May through September.
Mimosa trees can grow to 40 feet tall and 20 feet around the crown. The Mimosa root system can grow to nearly 3 times as large as the tree’s crown, so be sure not to plant near sidewalks, garden beds or your house as it may cause some problems for you down the road. Mimosa trees are pretty hardy, if you cut one down it will probably keep growing back. Mimosa trees can grow in many different soil types and produce thousands of seeds in a single season – In places like Florida Mimosa is extremely invasive so you might consider growing a small Mimosa in a container. The tree is nitrogen fixing, adding nitrogen back into the soil. Mimosa seed pods stay on through the winter and fall off shortly after. Since Mimosa’s drop their seed pods, dead flowers and leaves it can be messy.
There are different varieties of Mimosa, your most common Mimosa flower is full pink to white, with white being on the inside of the flower. Another variety called “Chocolate Summer” Mimosa, a variation of Albizia Julibrissin, has the same pink flowers but with chocolate / bronze colored leaves. I have seen images on some sites that show vibrant bright yellow Mimosa looking flowers, but they are actually Acacia Dealbata (Silver Wattle) and are not part of the same family.
When growing Mimosa from seed I hear it can take up to 7 years to get your first flower, but growing from seed is fairly easy. In fact, Mimosa grows from it’s seeds so well – that is one of the reasons it is considered so invasive. I’ve had 6 of them growing over the last year, only one died off over the Winter. Considering that Mimosa can produce up to 10,000 seeds in a single season you could grow thousands. Aside from growing from seeds, you really have only two options to get your fix. Buy an established plant or grow your own Mimosa from a cutting. Mimosa rarely self pollinates, but bees love them so pollination is usually not a problem if there is another one in your neighborhood.
Growing Mimosa from a cutting can be hard so I recommend attempting many cuttings. Get a fresh, recent season cutting (I think after Spring is best), you want about 6 inches of 1/2 inch diameter branch. I recommend using some rooting hormone powder and plant the Mimosa cuttings in potting soil. Your soil should be able to drain and not dry out. For the first 3 weeks keep the cuttings in a cool area. You do not want to over water and you do not want them to dry out. Be careful not to knock or bump the cuttings, even be careful when watering, as this can break the newly developing roots. Pay a lot of attention to how the soil is holding moisture by digging your finger in the side once a day, if the soil is slightly damp, water a little bit, if it is really wet don’t water it. As the cutting starts to show growth, or new leaves sprout, you can start to move it into a partial sun area until it’s fully established. It can take months to get a cutting to establish itself.
What makes Mimosa special?
The leaves of a Mimosa are like a fern and they actually fold up at night, it’s neat to watch! The tree Mimosa Pudica is very sensitive to touch and will fold up much faster than the Albizia Julibrissin. Though you can smell it during the day I think it’s fragrance is more noticeable as evening approaches and into a cool night. Of all the fragrant plants out there, the ones that release a stronger fragrance as evening approaches are my favorite as they make a relaxing afternoon memorable, even spiritual in some sense. Mimosa trees can make excellent climbing trees for kids. The pink flowers hold a special place in the imagination of a child, my mother told me when she was young she thought they were fairies. To me they are a magnificent creation by a loving God and the fragrance is reminiscent of Gardenias mixed with peaches and mango. The light fragrance is fruity and can fill a small backyard.
Now, this is where this tree goes from neat to awesome! Apparently the Mimosa leaves and flowers are edible. According to http://PFAF.Org: “Edible Parts: Flowers, Gum, Leaves, Tea. Young leaves – cooked. An aromatic flavour[2, 106, 178, 179], they are used as a potherb. Flowers – cooked. Eaten as a vegetable. The dried leaves are a tea substitute[177, 183].” I will definitely give this a try. Make tea from the leaves or flowers, try to get some gum/sap and see what it might taste like, steam the leaves and flowers and see how they do. DO NOT EAT THE SEEDS, they are poisonous – causing seizures and even death. Pets can also get sick from eating the seeds, so make sure to proactively clean up if you have pets and teach kids not to eat the seeds!