Mimosa Tree History

Overview

Native to North Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia, the mimosa tree is a low growing tree. Because of its multi-part leaves and large pom-pom like flowers it was introduced into the U.S. an ornamental tree. However, the mimosa tree reproduces quickly and began to out-compete native U.S. species. As a result the mimosa tree has been declared as an invasive species in some states.

Origins & Description

The mimosa tree is native to parts of Asia and Africa. Sometimes called the silk tree, this deciduous tree grows to between 20 and 30 feet and attracts many insects, including bees and butterflies. Mimosa trees usually have a single trunk and multi-part leaves like a fern. The mimosa produces fragrant flowers sometime between May and July.

Chinese Medicine

Mimosa bark, or He Huan Pi, is an important herb in Chinese medicine. He Huan Pi is a sweet, neutral herb that affects the heart and liver meridians. According to HealthInfo.org, it is often prescribed as a calming agent and to help people with depression, insomnia, irritability and poor memory. It can also help to reduce pain and swelling.

Introduction to the West

The mimosa tree was introduced to the U.S. in 1745 as an ornamental tree. It eventually became established from Virginia to Louisiana and is also found in California.

Problems

Mimosa trees can produce over 200,000 seeds in a single year. Its ability to reproduce prodigiously makes it an invasive species in many areas. Its seeds can be spread by both animal carriers and by floating down streams or on other bodies of water.

Dealing With Invasive Mimosa

In areas where the mimosa has been declared invasive and a noxious weed, pulling up young trees is a good first step to eradicating this non-native species. If pulling the trees isn't effective, try cutting them down or making a cut all the way around the base of the tree 6 inches above the ground, which should kill the tree. This practice, called girdling, may result in new growth. However, that growth is easily pinched or pruned off until the roots of the tree die.

Keywords: mimosa trees, invasive trees, chinese medicine

About this Author

Christopher Earle is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colo. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, The Associated Press, the Boeing Company, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, Active Voice, RAHCO International and Umax Data Systems. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota.