10 Things about Persian silk tree (Albizia julibrissin)


Persian Slik Tree

What does a silk tree look like?

The ornamental Persian Silk tree is usually a very attractive and beautiful sight.

It is a deciduous tree, that is, it shed its leaves during the fall, and new leaves come in the spring. It has lovely leaves like ferns.  They are multi-compound leaves. The leaf is dark green in color, with a leathery texture, and grows to a length of about 20 inches. The central leaf has multiple pinnae on either side, numbering anything between 10 to 25. These Pinnae further have between 40 -60 tiny leaflets. These types of blades are known as Bipinnate leaves. The leaves close themselves in the night and during rainfall. The tree has a natural umbrella-shaped canopy.

The tree can have a height of anything between 10 -50 feet. Generally, they are moderate height trees around 30-35 feet. The silk tree is leguminous, and hence it has knotty lenticels on the light brown barks. In some cases, the color of the bark is gray. The trunk and branches of the tree are not strong and give away to strong winds. It is prevalent for the silk tree to have multiple trunks.

Silk tree bears stunningly beautiful pink wispy, delicate flowers because of which people plant it for ornamental value. The flowers are very pleasing to look at and elevates your mood. Hence it is also nicknamed as the “Tree of Joy” or “Tree of Happiness.” In the early summer, it bears fruits in the form of seedpods that is about 6 inches long. The seedpods contain the seeds of the plant. On dispersal, these seeds give rise to new plants.

Is a mimosa tree fast-growing?

mimosa tree fast growing

The Mimosa is a very fast-growing tree. It can add around 24 inches on an average, to its height in one year. During the peak growth time, the Mimosa can add some 5feet to its height in just one year.  It attains its full height of around 40 feet in approximately 15 years. The spread of the tree is also almost equivalent to the height of the tree. At its peak, it can be something like 30 – 40 feet wide.

If any tree grows fast, the trunk and branches are weak, and that explains why the weak branches of Mimosa.

So Mimosa is good to plant if you are looking to add some trees quickly into your space.

Are mimosa trees messy?

mimosa tree messy

The tree sheds in multiple stages. The mimosa tree first sheds the blossoms, followed by seedpods, then leaves, then sticks, which are either leaf petioles or twigs. Though most of the dropping of the mimosa tree creates a dirty and shabby look, the sticky, staining, brown paste formed by wet dropped blossoms is particularly noxious.

mimosa tree seed pod
The seedpods of a mimosa tree

Usually, a deciduous tree sheds all its leaf during the fall season, and then it is not messy. But Mimosa trees are pretty dirty. The tree has lots of things to drop and mess the ground throughout the year. During the fall, the tiny leaflets and the leaves cover the ground. Then it is the turn of the ‘beautiful’ flowers to shed. The flower droppings form a very dirty and hateful sticky and staining brown paste. Since the branches are weak, you have falling twigs and sticks throughout the year.

Be careful not to have Mimosa on your driveway or the walkway. Further, if you have a mimosa tree adjacent to a bustling road, then cleaning will be a big issue. All the droppings, if not cleaned, rot and smell bad.

Be prepared to do lots of cleaning if you wish to have Mimosa placed in your garden or backyard. Try to plant these trees in the open, as it facilitates proper cleaning.

Which is the best place to plant a mimosa tree?

mimosa tree place to plant
Open space is preferable for mimosa tree

Mimosa tree flourishes any type of soil. So, it does not matter what type of soil is there in your garden. It is a robust plant and can withstand extremes of temperature.  It needs good sunlight. So avoid shady spots like adjacent to some building or big tree.  Standing water rots the roots of Mimosa plants. So ensure the planting site has good drainage. The mimosa tree is in the habit or arching and spreading, so give it a functional space. The canopy covers from 30 -50 feet.

Though it is very tempting to plant Mimosa to shade your ‘sit out,’ refrain from doing that. The Mimosa Tree is very messy with droppings throughout the year.

Also, avoid planting Mimosa near your driveway or any constructed area. The roots of Mimosa are invasive and can damage the construction. The USDA planting zones 6 -9 are quite suitable to plant the Mimosa trees.

What is the best time of the year to plant a mimosa tree?

mimosa flower
Mature mimosa tree will bloom between May and July

The ideal time for planting the Mimosa tree is in the winter or just before the winter begins. The plant can thrive better in a new environment during the winter. Planting the Mimosa tree in the hot season is not good.

For transplantation of the Mimosa tree, the best time is between the late fall and early winter. During this time, all the leaves shed, and the tree goes into a dormant mode. Since not much activity is going on inside the tree, it is easier to transplant it at this time.

Being in a kind of dormant state, acceptance of the new soil and conditions will be easier for the tree.

On the contrary, spring is the most appropriate time to dig up small saplings that have grown on their own and plant it in suitable places. Alternatively, it can also be potted to be planted later or gifted to someone.

What is the lifespan of a mimosa tree?

mimosa flower
The flower of a mimosa tree

Mimosa tree does not have a long life for a tree. For a 50 ft tall and 30 feet wide tree, it is short-lived. After achieving its full height, it does not live long. The average life of the Mimosa tree is about 20 years. That too if the disease and pests have not taken it down earlier. It is a disease and pest prone tree.

So, if you are planning to plant a tree that remains for a long time, then Mimosa is not the right choice. If your existing Mimosa withers off, don’t worry, it must have lived its life.

Interestingly though the life of the Mimosa tree is short, it has various ways of propagating itself. Within its short life span, it grows and disperses many seeds. In some years, the one tree that you plant may give rise to many Mimosa plants in your property.

What is the most common problem that the Mimosa plant has?

mimosa tree wilt
Fusarium wilt is a major problem for mimosa tree.

The mimosa plant is quite robust and invasive and generally survives in the toughest of the conditions. However, there are specific problems that a Mimosa can face like;

Fusarium wilt:

It is a life-threatening fungal disease for the Mimosa plant. The very prominent symptom of this fungal infection shows in the leaves. They turn yellow, then brown and wilt and drop dead. There could be a possibility that only one side of the plant is affected. The tree oozes out the frothy and nasty smelling liquid from cracks on the trunks. The older leaves of the tree will die first, and gradually the whole tree sheds all its dead leaves, and eventually, the tree dies.

You can prevent fusarium wilt from destroying your tree by ensuring proper drainage of water from the tree roots. Do not overuse the fertilizers. Before planting the tree, disinfect the pit by sunray to kill all soil-borne pathogens.

Insects:

The tree may have several insects like spider mites, aphids, webworms, and whiteflies. Use appropriate insecticides to get rid of these insects before they seriously harm the Mimosa tree. Follow the instructions of the manufacturer of pesticides for the mixture and frequency.

When Should silk trees be pruned?

The silk trees do not need much care as far as pruning is concerned. On its own, it develops into a beautiful “V” shaped or vast umbrella-shaped dome.

However, the best time to prune the silk tree is after it has bloomed. Please remember not to prune the silk tree in winter. If you still do that, you will not have any flowers on the tree, that season.

Prune only those branches that have borne flowers and done with it. Snip the branches, carefully to ensure that adjacent ones are not disturbed or injured (the trunk and the branches of silk tree are frail)

Carefully pinched off the lateral branches that come out from the lower part of the trunk. Also known as ‘suckers,’ they tend to develop into multi trunks or spreads the tree at a shallow height, which spoils the aesthetic look.

Again, at the end of the winter, scout for dead and blackened branches, because of cold. Cut them off carefully. That reduces the stress and load on the silk tree and keeps it healthy.

Are silk tree roots invasive?

The silk tree roots are invasive. They propagate forcefully and damage roads, walkways, and constructions.  Florida’s Ex otic Pest Plant Council has designated silk trees as class II invasive. Be careful not to plant the silk tree near driveways and walkways. Keep it away from all constructed structures. It damages concrete too. In case there is a silk tree near any built area, it is better to uproot it or destroy it.

Not only the roots, but the tree itself is very invasive. A tree typically termed as intrusive when it is not a local species. It not only flourishes in the local areas but displaces the local vegetation and propagates profusely. The silk tree has all these qualities. Hence the tree is also considered to be invasive.

So, think carefully about all the aspects if you plan to plant a silk tree. Do it only if you have a large open area devoid of any construction.

What is the use of a Mimosa tree?

mimosa tree flower

Mimosa tree is a lovely tree with delicate pink flowers. It is famous as an ornamental tree. In addition to the aesthetic appeal, it has other uses also.

Traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes and uses the Mimosa trees for lots of therapeutic uses since the bark of the tree has medicinal properties. It is also an excellent vermicide and used to cure bruises and wounds.

The seeds of the Mimosa tree used as food for livestock and even for wild animals. Hummingbirds love the Mimosa tree for the sweet nectar of the flowers. The timber from the tree finds its use in furniture making.

The Mimosa tree is an excellent anti-depressant, relaxant, anti-hypertensive, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumorous. The traditional alternative medicine systems use the tea or tincture made out of mimosa flowers and bark to treat insomnia, depression, and nervous tension.

It also balances a person mentally and gives a sense of well-being.

How do you stop a mimosa tree from spreading?

Over the years, lured by its beauty, people planted many Mimosa trees for the landscape. However, the invasive nature of the tree and its roots have created concern in the mind of people. The local authorities vehemently discourage the plantation and propagation of the Mimosa tree. It can destroy the local fauna and take over the entire region. In that process lot of constructed property may also get damaged. Hence, there is a drive to stop the spread of Mimosa and subsequently save the original flora.

There is a unanimous consensus amongst the experts that the best way to stop the spread of the Mimosa tree is not to plant it. If you plant one, the hardy tree is sure to survive and propagate profusely, true to its invasive nature.

The next best thing to do is to remove the existing Mimosa tree by cutting it off manually at the ground level. The best time to cut the tree is before it develops the seed pod. And in case the tree is cut along with seed pods, one must ensure that the seeds are not dispersed and spread. Destroy all the seedpods by burning them off. Even after you cut the tree, watch for fresh shoots that might erupt from the cut stem.

To destroy the Mimosa plant chemically, spray herbicides like glyphosate or triclopyr. When using the chemical methods, be careful not to disturb or destroy the native vegetation.

Lindsey Glenn

I've been learning about gardening since 2015, helping friends and family to grow their trees. I am passionate about trees and love sharing everything I learn about them.

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