A Lovely But Troublesome Tree
June 27, 2014, Release for Tallahassee Democrat
A Mimosa tree invader in a natural area & Bloom and foliage of the invasive Mimosa tree.
Photo by Mary Derrick, UF IFAS.
By Mary Derrick
All along the roadsides and in home landscapes this time of year, a profusion of fluffy pink blossoms are adorning trees known as Mimosa, or Albizia julibrissin. This native of China was introduced to home landscapes in this country in the 1700’s to enjoy the fragrant, showy flowers and fine, lacy foliage. However, there is a dark side to this lovely tree. After blooming, it produces an abundance of pods each containing 5 to 10 seeds. Seeds can be spread by wildlife and water; this is evidenced by the appearance of mimosa trees along the roadways, streams and in our natural areas. The seeds can also remain dormant for many years, allowing seedlings to keep sprouting up long after the mother tree is gone.
Mimosa has been categorized as an invasive exotic plant in Florida as it has not only naturalized, but is expanding on its own in Florida native plant communities. This expansion means that our native plants in natural areas get crowded out by the mimosa as it reproduces so prolifically.
The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC) publishes a list of non-native plants that have been determined to be invasive. For the most recent 2013 list go to their web page at http://www.fleppc.org/list/2013PlantList-WithLinksToUFL-update_05_28_14.pdf
The first step in controlling this pest plant is to remove existing plants in the landscape. Cutting it down at soil level and immediately painting the stump with a 25% solution of glyphosate or triclopyr should do the trick. Other details and control methods can be found at http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/node/29
There are some native trees that make excellent alternatives to Mimosa such as fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus), silverbell (Halesia carolina) and flowering dogwood (Cornus florida).
Mary Derrick is the Residential Horticulture University of Florida Extension Agent for Santa Rosa County. For more information about gardening in our area, visit the UF/ IFAS Leon County Extension website at http://leon.ifas.ufl.edu. For gardening questions, email us at Ask-A-Mastergardener@leoncountyfl.gov
Watch on WFSU’s TV show Dimensions, UF/Leon County Extension Master Gardeners Lana Arnold and Glenn Mayne tell more about invasive exotic plants. http://wfsu.org