Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) is a medium-sized deciduous tree that blooms in the summer and was, at one time, as much a symbol of the southern landscape as the crapemyrtle. But mimosas have fallen from favor amongst southern gardeners and now it is often considered a weed-tree.

A move is currently afoot amongst Arkansas regulators and policy makers to add it to a forbidden plants list; a kind of silvan prohibition policy.

Mimosas are capable of reaching 35 feet in height with a spread of 50 feet on old trees. It is usually low-branched, forking from near the ground and makes a great climbing tree for children. Trees seldom live more than 25 or 30 years, but they grow quickly, and once you get started along the mimosa path, you usually have one lurking about somewhere in the border.

The leaves are bipinnately compound with leaflets only slightly larger than a grain of rice. At night on cool evenings, the leaves fold up, helping explain the Chinese name for the tree which is hehuan and translates as "shut happy," symbolizing a happy couple in bed.

The 5- to 7-inch, fragrant, pink powderpuff of blooms appear in July. The mimosa is a member of the legume family; the flowers of this species are acacia-like and consist of numerous, long, showy stamens, not the more familiar pea-flower of the tribe. But when the seed pod develops, its membership in the legume family is obvious. The 6-inch long pods are filled with hard seeds.

These seeds are well protected by their bony exterior and remain viable in the soil for at least five years, and probably much longer. Because the seeds retain this spark of life, mimosas are prone to come up unexpectedly in the garden, abandoned fields or other waste places.

Mimosa is native from Iran to eastern China. Beginning about 1745, the French Jesuit missionary Pierre Nicholas d’Incarville (1706-1757) introduced a number of trees from northern China to western gardens, including tree of heaven, Chinese arborvitae, golden rain tree, Chinese sophora and the mimosa.

Blooming Time: The plant flowers in mid to late summer. The flowers are globe shaped, about 1 inch across.

Culture: Mimosa pudica need full sun to partial shade, with a rich moist soil. We use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 2 parts loam to 1 part sand or perlite. The soil should be kept evenly moist but not saturated. During the growing season, the plant are fertilized on a weekly basis with a balanced fertilizer diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label. During the winter months, fertilize on a monthly basis. Winter temperatures should not fall below 65° F; if they do get chilled, then the plant suffers with yellowing of leaves and stems.

Propagation: Mimosa pudica is propagated from seed. Seed will germinate in 14 to 21 days at 70° F.

Hardiness: Plants are tender to frost, but can become weedy in tropical regions.

Growing Environment: They enjoy full sun, warm temperatures, and moderate water. Easily container grown, and commonly done so as an ornamental oddity.

Uses: Grown as an ornamental curiosity for its leaves which are an amazing example of rapid movement in plants. When touched, the leaves quickly close before ones eyes. They also close during nighttime.

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