Originally native to China, the mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin), also called a silk tree, is a popular garden tree that is cultivated throughout the world. The hardy plant requires little care, growing in sunny locations and just about any type of soil. Mimosa trees can often be seen growing in disturbed soils along roads in the Southeast United States. The versatile tree has many uses which contribute to the plant's widespread popularity.
The mimosa tree is frequently grown as an ornamental, thanks to the tree's attractive fern-like foliage and fluffy pink blossoms. A fast grower, mimosa trees can quickly be implemented into a garden as a lawn accent. Mimosa trees are highly fragrant and attract bees. Caution should be used when deciding whether or not to plant a mimosa tree however, as the plant is listed as invasive in some locations, including the state of Florida.
While mimosa trees are often grown as ornamental trees, they double as lovely shade trees. Reaching a maximum height of about 35 feet, mimosa trees are tall enough to produce a large shade canopy but not so large that they dominate or threaten a home. Since the branches allow some filtered light through, grass can be planted directly under the tree, allowing for a comfortable spot to sit and relax in the summer and spring.
The bark of the mimosa tree is used in traditional Chinese medicine. Called "he huan pi," mimosa tree bark is used for ailments regarding the heart and liver. Referred to sometimes as a "happiness herb," parts of the plant have been used to help with depression. The leaves and stems of the mimosa tree can be made into an herbal tea to help with a number of issues, including insomnia and tooth aches.