When my daughter Peggy was killed fifteen years ago there was a mimosa tree in her yard.  We thought it was beautiful, with its delicate branches, lacy leaves, stunning pink flowers, and daughter Mary decided she wanted to plant a baby mimosa in memory of Peggy.  She found them a little hard to transplant since they had only one long taproot but eventually got a couple of them going and one found a home in my back yard.

Our tree was coming along nicely, having weathered a winter or two.  Mimosas leaf out so late in the spring that you wonder if they are still alive, but eventually leaves and blooms appeared and we were happy it was thriving in our sometimes harsh climate.

Well, the little fella must have been about 8-10 feet tall when my sons next door decided we needed to have our driveway paved.   And the next thing you know they are telling me they had to dig up my mimosa because it was in the way!  And the next thing you know, daughter-in-law Martha was on the phone to her husband at work, telling  him, “Your Mom won’t let them dig up her tree!”  And then son Dan was on the phone telling me they will dig a deep hole and replant it wherever I want it, but it has to move.  I’m afraid it will die in the process so I stay in the house crying while they go about their skullduggery.

The tree was duly moved and Martha went out and bought root toner and something to spray on the leaves to increase its chance of living. (I knew she felt my pain!)  We watched and watered (though mimosas seldom need watering) and indeed it took hold and once more thrived again.  It is truly more beautiful now than ever, graceful and tall (over our two-story housetop!)   Mimosas are said to be fast-growing and short-lived.

Well, thinking I’d write a bit about how lovely it is, I went online to study mimosa trees.   There I find mimosas right smack in the middle of the list of the ten least desirable trees–trees you should think long and hard before planting in your yard.

U.S. Forest Service in Fact Sheet ST68 says about the mimosa:    “At one time considered a choice small flowering tree, it is questionable in today’s landscapes because of its disease susceptibility.”  According to the U.S. National Park Service, “its major negative impact is its improper occurrence in historically accurate landscapes.”   It competes with native trees.  The wood is said to be brittle, breaking easily in storms, though the branches are too lightweight to do much damage.

On the positive side, mimosas are said to be handsome with beautiful silk-like flowers.  They are tolerant of drought and alkaline soils.

There is a whole site answering the question:  Are Mimosa Trees Really That Bad? Here are a few quotes from that site:

I’m just really curious about this tree as I love the looks and smell but a little scared to give it a try.

And for those of us who love the hummingbirds, there is hardly a tree around that will draw them better than a Mimosa.

If someone gave me the power to eradicate a single species in North America…I’d take out kudzu. But if they gave me TWO species…okay, Japanese stiltgrass.  But  mimosa’d be third.  Definitely.

Besides their invasiveness–which is the highest level in almost every Southern state–they are disease-prone, weak-wooded, short-lived, and messy to boot… And I personally don’t believe they’re as fragrant or attractive to hummingbirds as they’re billed. So do yourself, your neighbors, and the native plants a favor, and don’t plant this menace!!

They talk much about mimosa seedlings – they call them “volunteers” – springing up all over the place.  I can vouch for that.  Nowadays we find a number of mimosa seedlings in our yard; they do seem to be happy to be here.  But, duh! – isn’t that what plants are supposed to do?  If you don’t want seedlings, don’t plant any plants that make seeds!  And I’m willing to bet that the maple tree next door makes many, many more obnoxious baby trees than my mimosa does.

Who would have thought I’d spend hours today learning about desirable and undesirable vegetation?  These people know much more than I about Forestry and invasiveness  – but what about beauty?  How do they decide that some trees belong here and others don’t?  Isn’t that discrimination?  How about diversity?  I tend to favor the open market – let them contend with each other and thrive where they grow best.  And let people chose what they want to grow in their own yards.

Knowing more about my mimosa has made me consider problems I never thought about before.  Maybe, being a short-lived species, mine will die soon.  From what I read, they make stunning bonzai specimens.  I’ll be sure to save some seeds so I can play with bonsais should I have a long idle future.