The mimosa tree is often called the silk tree because of its silky flowers. Mimosas are a short lived tree or bush, with most varieties only living from 10 to 20 years. A deciduous tree, mimosa can offer cooling shade in the summer, yet allow sun to shine through in the winter.
There are a number of varieties of mimosa, ranging from bushes to trees. One form is often called the "sensitive plant" because its leaves curl up when touched. Some species of mimosa are native to South America. Other varieties are native to China.
There are two varieties of mimosa tree--mimosa acacia and mimosa albizia.
Mimosa acacia flowers grow in clusters that hang down, and are often grown in Europe as cut flower. Most mimosa acacia flowers are yellow. European mimosa acacia flowers are harvested at different times of the year, depending on which hybrid is being grown. Different hybrids flower at different times, ranging from December to March.
Mimosa leaves are compound leaves that can be as long as 20 inches. Each compound leaf is made up of a series of leaflet pairs. In some varieties, these leaflets can be as large as 1/2 inch long.
Mimosa trees and bushes can vary greatly in size, depending on the variety. Smaller bushes are as small as 6 feet high, with larger varieties growing to nearly 30 feet tall. The spread on these trees and bushes is generally about equal to their height.
Although it is tolerant of partial sun, most mimosa does best in full sun. Mimosas grow in a variety of soils, including loam, clay and sand. It does well in acidic soils and alkaline soils that drain well. It is drought tolerant and can tolerate airborne salt, so it does well near oceans.
Mimosa grows well in almost all coastal areas of the United States. It grows well in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zones 6B through 9B.
Because they produce such large quantities of seeds, mimosa can easily become invasive in some climates. If you are thinking of planting one, consult your local county agricultural extension to check to see if a particular variety is considered invasive or a noxious weed in your area.