PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin)

Also called Persian Silk Tree and Pink Silk Tree, this stunner is most commonly known as Mimosa in the U.S. Mimosa is mentioned in the Shen Nong Ben Cao Materia Medica, a compilation of oral wisdom regarding agriculture and medicine written between the 3rd century B.C. and the 3rd century A.D. In that text, it is referred to as The Tree of Happiness, with the bark and flowers recommended for treating insomnia and depression. It is referred to as a ‘Calming Spirit Herb’. Mimosa is native to a broad geography of Asia from the Caspian Sea to Japan and was introduced to the U.S. in the 1700s from a tree sourced in Turkey.

Here in the Pacific Northwest Mimosa is a staggeringly gorgeous tree that can function as a small shade tree in a cozy yard or as a street tree. It is in the Pea family and very generally, plants in the Pea family tend to sucker and self-seed to form colonies. In the PNW, we have enough of a winter to keep them polite and non-spready. In the Southeast U.S., it’s a different story. It can be invasive in many states there.

Mimosa will grow fairly quickly in a sunny spot into a 20-25-ish-foot tall tree with a broad canopy almost as wide. Light, open branches are covered in delicate tiny leaves, and in mid-summer thousands of dayglo pink, sweetly scented, poofy, pompom blooms decorate the canopy. These turn into long seed pods that drop with the leaves in autumn. It creates an “Oh WOW!” moment when you see it in bloom.