Fact Sheet

Mimosa, Silktree (Albizia julibrissin) Durazz.

September 19, 2007

Mimosa or silktree is a small legume tree that grows 10 to 50 feet tall and reproduces by abundant seeds and root sprouts. It has feathery deciduous leaves, smooth light-brown bark, and showy pink blossoms that produce dangling flat pods. Seedpods float and seeds remain viable for many years.

Synonym: silky acacia

Ecology. Occurs on dry-to-wet sites and spreads along stream banks, preferring open conditions but also persisting in shade. Seldom found above 3,000 feet. Forms colonies from root sprouts and spreads by abundant animal- and water-dispersed seeds. Seeds remain viable for many years. Nitrogen fixer.

Resembles honeylocust, Gleditsia triacanthos L., which has longer leaflets— 1 inch long. Seedlings resemble partridge pea, Chamaecrista fasciculata (Michx.) Greene, an annual plant with once pinnately compound leaves.

History and use. A traditional ornamental introduced from Asia in 1745. Potential use for forage and biofuel.

Plant. Deciduous leguminous tree 10 to 50 feet in height with single or multiple boles, smooth light-brown bark, feathery leaves, and showy pink blossoms that continually yield dangling flat pods during summer. Pods persistent during winter.

Stem. Twigs slender to stout, lime green turning shiny grayish brown with light dots (lenticels). No terminal bud. Bark glossy, thin, light brown turning gray with raised corky dots and dashes.

Leaves. Alternate, bipinnately compound 6 to 20 inches long with 8 to 24 pairs of branches and 20 to 60 leaflets per branch, feathery and fernlike. Leaflets asymmetric, 0.4 to 0.6 inch long, dark green, with midvein nearer and running parallel to one margin. Margins entire.

Flowers. May to July (and sporadically to November). Terminal clusters at the base of the current year’s twigs, each with 15 to 25 sessile flowers 1.4 to 2 inches long. Pom-pom like with numerous filaments, bright-pink feathery tufts with white bases. Fragrant.

Fruits and seeds. June to February. Legume pods in clusters, flat with bulging seeds, each pod 3 to 7 inches long, splitting in winter along the edges to release 5 to 10 oval seeds. Initially light green turning dark brown in fall and whitish tan in winter.

Recommended control procedures:

Large trees. Make stem injections using Arsenal AC* or Garlon 3A in dilutions as specified on the herbicide label (anytime except March and April). For felled trees, apply these herbicides to stem and stump tops immediately after cutting.

Saplings. Apply Garlon 4 as a 20-percent solution in commercially available basal oil, diesel fuel, or kerosene (2.5 quarts per 3-gallon mix) with a penetrant (check with herbicide distributor) to young bark as a basal spray.

Resprouts and seedlings. Thoroughly wet all leaves with one of the following herbicides in water with a surfactant: July to October—Garlon 3A, Garlon 4, or glyphosate herbicide as a 2-percent solution (8 ounces per 3-gallon mix) July to September—Transline† as a 0.2- to 0.4-percent solution (1 to 2 ounces per 3-gallon mix).

* Nontarget plants may be killed or injured by root uptake.
† Transline controls a narrow spectrum of plant species.

From: Miller, James H. 2003. Nonnative invasive plants of southern forests: a field guide for identification and control. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-62. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 93 p.