Mimosa Tree Information
This post, titled Mimosa Tree Information, provides information on propagation, edibility, and permaculture uses of this medicinal tree.
The mimosa tree, Albizia julibrissin, is also known as Persian silk tree and pink silk tree, is originally from China and was introduced to the United States between 1745 and 1785. It is a small deciduous tree growing 15 to 50 feet, often having multiple trunks and has a unique tropical look. It is fast-growing, deer and drought-tolerant, and hardy from USDA zones 6 to 10. It is a member of the legume Fabaceae plant family and is capable of fixing nitrogen. The species is sometimes called an invasive species in Japan and North America.
The leaves look like an arrangement of feather-like or multi-divided features arising from both sides of a common axis. On most plants the leaves are green, but some cultivars are now being sold with chocolate or purple colored leaves as well as other colors. The leaves slowly close during the night and during periods of rain, the leaflets bowing downward with a spreading, often umbrella-like crown.
The bark is dark greenish grey in color and striped vertically as it gets older.
Fragrant, hot pink blooms grow in clusters. Flowers produce throughout the summer and look like pom-poms borne in terminal clusters at the base of the current year’s twigs. The flowers attract beneficial insects, bees, butterflies and humming birds.
The fruit is a flat green pod that turns brown as it matures. Each pod has an average of eight and up to a dozen seeds inside. The seeds are light brown oval-shaped seeds about ½ inch in length. The plant is self-fertile, so only one is required to produce viable seed.
It can be used as an ornamental tree, medicinal plant, edible plant, pioneer species, and nitrogen fixer. In permaculture we called it a “pioneer species,” because if you disturb the land, remove native vegetation, and open the tree canopy to light, it’s one of the first trees to appear.
It is a member of the legume (Fabaceae) plant family and is capable of fixing nitrogen.
While the leaves and flowers are edible, they are reportedly not great. Dried leaves can be used for teas. You can also boil young leaves. The blossoms are edible like a vegetable or crystallized. See the note below about possible toxicity with the seed pods.
Seed pods are used as a food source for livestock. The birds and bees like the nectar from the flowers.
The mimosa pod carries the poison. The pod contains neurotoxic alkaloids which are also known as the paralytic shellfish toxins. The entire pod is considered poisonous but the bark and wood have not been shown to carry the toxin. Affected animals are grazers like sheep and goats. There is no information regarding human toxicity or domestic animals.
In vitro studies document anticancer activity of the various julibrosides against numerous cancer cell lines. The herb is often marketed for relieving anxiety, depression, and stress. *
The Persian Silk Tree is used in traditional Chinese Medicine to “nourish the heart and calm the spirit”; recent research shows that the tree contains an anti-depressant effect. *
Propagation is usually done from seed. Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds. Seeds require scarification in order to germinate. This characteristic allows the seed to remain dormant for many years. Pre-soak for 24 hours in warm-hot water.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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