Darrell Blackwelder: Mimosa trees are glowing

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 15, 2024

There are small trees with pink, puffy blooms dotting the county as mimosa trees have been glowing for a couple of weeks. Native to southern Asia, introduction of the tree to the United States has been traced back to 1745. Mimosas trees (Albizia julibrissin) are relatively small trees reaching a mature height of 25-35 feet. These trees can be found growing almost anywhere, from abandoned parking lots to roadside embankments.

These trees are legumes that adapt to our climate and grow quickly. A major way to identify the tree after bloom is the bean-like pods like those on redbud trees. Unfortunately, mimosa trees have a very short life span because of a fungal disease. Mature trees never live more than 25 years before succumbing to this fatal disease. This disease has practically eradicated mimosas from many areas in the South. The fungus is present in the soil and enters the tree through its root system. Once the disease becomes established in the soil, there is little that can be done to save the trees. The fungus may be transmitted in seeds collected from diseased trees and there is no practical control for this disease.

Regrettably, not only does this unique tree have a short lifespan, it has also been deemed an invasive species by the N.C. Forest Service because of its threat to natural areas because of its prolific seeds that can remain viable for years. The threat is so severe some municipalities within our state which have passed ordinances outlawing new plantings of this species. Go to http://ncforestservice.gov/publications/Forestry%20Leaflets/IS13.pdf for more detailed information about mimosa trees.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu.