Butterfly Magnets: Mimosa Tree

 

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“Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh

 

This beautiful tree, which I learned to call “Mimosa” as a small child, is also known as “Persian Silk Tree” because of the silky texture of its flowers.

Native to areas of Asia, the Mimosa, or Albizia Julibrissin, was brought to Europe in the mid-Eighteenth Century, and eventually to North America.

It now grows across the entire United States, especially in the southern half of the country.

 

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This is one of the first trees I learned to identify as a child because it is found so commonly on roadsides in Virginia.

It would always catch my eye, and I would admire it on family trips.

 

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Its soft pink blossoms are also fragrant, and limbs with blossoms provide many hours of make-believe fun for little ones.

Introduced as an ornamental tree, it blooms here from June until September.

 

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Seeds grow in long pods, much like the seeds of a Redbud tree, and also provide food for wildlife.

Bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies love this tree.

Planting one in your garden guarantees hours of enjoyment watching the traffic of nectar loving creatures dining from it each day during its long period of bloom.

 

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This beautiful non- native naturalizes easily, and despite its beauty, is considered an invasive species in some areas.

It is considered invasive because it self-seeds so easily.  A high percentage of all seeds produced are viable.  This is the species, not a cultivar; so all seedlings have the potential to grow into beautiful trees just like the parent.

 

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New trees crop up on any bare ground, and grow rapidly.

When we came to this garden, a huge mature Mimosa tree grew near our property line, ornamenting that part of the garden.  We could watch the many visiting butterflies from our deck.

Sadly, it was one of the trees lost in a recent hurricane when oaks fell on it, taking it to the ground.  We have missed that tree tremendously, but are happy that it is coming back from the roots.

This Mimosa, in another part of the garden, is blooming for the first time this season.  We are thrilled that new Mimosas have grown up to replace the one we have missed so much.

One of the difficulties in growing Mimosa in our garden is its attractiveness to deer.  Our herd has grazed the recovering tree each year, and all new trees, slowing their growth.

If the Mimosa can survive to outgrow the deer’s reach, then they can mature into their full potential.

 

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A member of the pea family, Mimosa has very tender (and most likely tasty) deciduous leaves.

The leaves, which grow much like the fronds of ferns, will close up at night, and may close during heavy rain.  They don’t give much fall color, but do help to build the soil as they decay.

 

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This is another plant which will look after itself.  Other than watering a new tree during drought, little else is needed from the gardener.  Pruning lower branches may become necessary depending on where the tree grows.

Some may look at this tree as “weedy,” especially when it self-sows in areas where it isn’t needed.

I happen to love the beauty of its pink flowers each summer, and still find its appearance in June one of the joys of early summer.

 

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

“Only the present moment contains life.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh,

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About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

15 responses to “Butterfly Magnets: Mimosa Tree

  1. Mmb

    I love our mimosa tree, too. The. Scent is wonderful and it’s neat to watch the entire canopy of flowers covered with butterflies in August. The tree seems to come alive then with all the wing action!

  2. That first photo is stunning! The blossoms remind me of exotic birds. They are beautiful, I can see why you love this shrub. And add to that, the flyers love it. Beauty begetting beauty. What’s not to love? I hear your conundrum with it being invasive. It is tied into your happy childhood memories and who would want to give that up?

    It’s like me keeping the cursed Japanese quince because it attracts and feeds the hummingbirds when they return hungry after migrating thousands of miles from their wintering grounds in May. They feast on it when there is little else in the yard or woods for them. I love watching them and provide lots of natural food for them throughout the season. I prefer that to maintaining a sugar water feeder. I’m lazy that way!

    • When a shrub is at least attractive, and has benefits for wildlife, I try to find a way to retain it, too. I suppose you’re cursing the Quince because of its thorns? But yes, the hummers depend on them. I agree with you on the feeders, and try to have natural foods for the hummingbirds to keep them coming back here. Ours arrived early, then left. Now that the Hibiscus are opening we keep hoping to see a family settle in. Best wishes, WG

  3. How beautiful! Those soft fluffy flowers are lovely. I don’t think I’ve seen one of these trees before.

  4. I like the Mimosa trees too, nice pictures! 🙂 They spread very easily.

  5. I do love Mimosa trees…. wish we had planted one many years ago.

  6. Love mimosas! I wish ours had blooms this year!

    • 😉 We were thrilled to find blooms on ours. One came drifting down while my husband was out working, and he brought it to me. That is how we noticed this one had finally bloomed 😉 Best wishes, WG

  7. I was admiring the flowers of the roadside mimosas during my trip home today. It’s another tree I’d like to have somewhere in or around my scrounger’s garden (especially now that I’ve just learned from your post that the nectar loving creatures enjoy it). Lovely images, WG. 🙂

    • Thank you, Robin 😉 Glad you liked the photos. You can certainly dig some up here 😉 We have lots of seedlings. They just burst into bloom so suddenly, and liven up the roadsides. They remind me of little pink fireworks 😉 Welcome home. Know you have a busy few days ahead getting things under control again. Best wishes, WG

  8. I love the mimosa! Even though it is an invasive species, it does attract the pollinators.

    • It has naturalized, and now fits into the ecosystem to give as much as it takes. They are so beautiful when in bloom AND, they are good at filtering the air. So glad you love them, too 😉 Best wishes, WG

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