Pros and Cons of Planting Mimosa in Your Yard

Silk Tree/Mimosa illustration

Treehugger / Caitlin Rogers

Albizia julibrissin, also called silk tree, was introduced into North America from China where it is a native species. The tree along with its silk-like flower arrived in North America in 1745 and was rapidly planted and cultivated for use as an ornamental. Mimosa is still planted as an ornamental because of its fragrant and showy flowers but has escaped into the forest and now considered an invasive exotic. Mimosa's ability to grow and reproduce along roadways and disturbed areas and to establish after escaping from cultivation is a major problem. Mimosa is considered an invasive tree in North America.

The Beautiful Mimosa Flower and Leaf

Silk tree has showy and fragrant pink flowers that are just over an inch long. These lovely pink flowers resemble pompoms, all of which are arranged in panicles at the ends of branches. These beautiful flowers appear in abundance from late April to early July creating a spectacular sight that enhances its popularity.

These flowers are the perfect color pink, they have a pleasant fragrance and are very attractive during spring and summer flowering. They can also be a mess on property under the tree.

The abundant fern-like leaf also adds a bit of magic and is unlike many, if any, of the North American native trees. These unique leaves make Mimosa popular to use as a terrace or patio tree for its light-filtering effect with "dappled shade and a tropical effect". Its deciduous (loses its leaves when dormant) nature allows the sun to warm during cold winters.

These leaves are finely divided, 5-8 inches long by about 3-4 inches wide, and alternate along the stems.

Growing Mimosa

Mimosa grows best in full sun locations and is not peculiar to any particular soil type. It does have a low tolerance for salt and grows well in acid or alkaline soil. Mimosa is drought tolerant but will have a deeper green color and more lush appearance when given adequate moisture.

The tree lives on dry-to-wet sites and tends to spread along stream banks. It prefers open conditions but can persist in the shade. You will seldom find the tree in forests with full canopy cover, or at higher elevations where cold hardiness is a limiting factor. 

Why You Should Not Plant Mimosa

Mimosa is short lived and very messy. It, in a very short time, shades large areas in the landscape which inhibit sun-loving shrubs and grasses. Seed pods litter both the tree and the ground, and the tree is considered an invasive species in North America.

The seeds readily germinate and seedlings can cover your lawn and the surrounding area. The mimosa flower, to be honest, is beautiful but if the tree is shading outside property or over automobiles, you will have a major annual cleaning problem through the flowering season.

The wood of mimosa is very brittle and weak and the multiple spreading branches are prone to breakage. This breakage is a major factor in its limited ability to live a long life. In addition to the breakage, the tree attracts webworm and vascular wilt which leads to an early demise.

Typically, most of the root system grows from only two or three large-diameter roots originating at the base of the trunk. These can raise walks and patios as they grow in diameter and make for poor transplanting success as the tree grows larger.

Redeeming Features

  • Mimosa is a handsome tree with beautiful silk-like flowers.
  • Mimosa is tolerant of drought and alkaline soils.