It is easy to notice the display of bright pink puffs erupting on low-growing trees along roadsides. This attractive plant is the Mimosa tree, Albizia julibrissin.
These once popular small trees are commonly found in the yards of older homes in Florida where the display of prolific blooms starts up as the weather warms.
This species is also classified as invasive native to southwest and eastern China, not Florida. Many Florida residents may not realize this tantalizing beauty is actually an aggressive invader in disguise.
It has spread from southern New York west to Missouri south to Texas. It is even considered an invasive species in Japan.
Worse yet, mimosas are guilty of hosting a fungal disease, Fusarian, which will negatively affect many ornamental and garden plants. Some palms as well as a variety of vegetables will succumb to this pathogen.
In natural areas the invader will disrupt not only other plants, but also the birds, mammals, amphibians, and insects which depend on the displaced plants for food, shelter and habitat. Other negative traits include the disruption of water flow and aiding the incidence of wildfires.
In natural areas, mimosas tend to spread into dense clumps blocking the light to native plants which prevents them from growing. They are prominent along the edges of woods and wetland areas where seeds scatter easily and take advantage of sheltered, sunlit spots.
Mimosa tree seeds can stay viable for many years in the soil. These seeds will float without damage to their germination potential until they wash ashore to colonize a new site.
Additionally, Mimosa tree seeds are attractive to wildlife. One tree in a yard can infest many acres with the aid of birds and small mammals.
Cut or wind snapped trees quickly regrow from the stump, making this one invader that is difficult to eradicate.
Fortunately, there are a variety of small trees which can replace the Mimosa tree in home landscapes. Many are attractive, but without the unrelenting need to populate the entire subdivision.
This is a beauty-and-the-beast combo tree with too many problems to compensate for its looks.