mimosa

The tree, not the cocktail. And then not a tree in the genus Mimosa, but one in the genus Albizia, specifically Albizia julibrissin, a specimen of which grows right outside my bedroom window — and is now getting into a stage at which it’s blooming quite prettily, but also dropping junk (leaflets and flowers at the moment, seed pods soon to come) all over the place. A mixed blessing.

First on names, which are about as confusing as you could want. From Wikipedia:

Albizia julibrissin (Persian silk tree, pink silk tree) is a species of tree in the family Fabaceae [the bean family, alternatively Leguminosae], native to southwestern and eastern Asia.

The genus is named after the Italian nobleman Filippo degli Albizzi, who introduced it to Europe in the mid-18th century, and it is sometimes incorrectly spelled Albizzia. The specific epithet julibrissin is a corruption of the Persian word gul-i abrisham … which means “silk flower” (from gul “flower” + abrisham “silk”).

Albizia julibrissin is known by a wide variety of common names, such as Persian silk tree or pink siris. It is also called Lenkoran acacia or bastard tamarind, though it is not too closely related to either genus. The species is usually called “silk tree” or “mimosa” in the United States, which is misleading – the former name can refer to any species of Albizia which is most common in any one locale. And, although once included in Mimosa, neither is it very close to the Mimoseae. To add to the confusion, several species of Acacia, notably Acacia baileyana and Acacia dealbata, are also known as “mimosa” (especially in floristry), and many Fabaceae trees with highly divided leaves are called thus in horticulture.

The plant — first flowers and bipinnate leaves, then mature pods (the pods are green when immature):

(#1)

(#2)

On the plant:

Its leaves slowly close during the night and during periods of rain, the leaflets bowing downward

A. julibrissin is a small deciduous tree growing to 5–12 m tall, with a broad crown of level or arching branches. The bark is dark greenish grey in colour and striped vertically as it gets older. The leaves are bipinnate, 20–45 cm long and 12–25 cm broad, divided into 6–12 pairs of pinnae, each with 20–30 pairs of leaflets; the leaflets are oblong, 1–1.5 cm long and 2–4 mm broad. The flowers are produced throughout the summer in dense inflorescences, the individual flowers with no petals but a tight cluster of stamens 2–3 cm long, white or pink with a white base, looking like silky threads. They have been observed to be attractive to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. The fruit is a flat brown pod 10–20 cm long and 2–2.5 cm broad, containing several seeds inside.

2 Responses to “mimosa”

  1. Mongo Says:

    Green roses
    Purple mimosas
    Divine are his poses
    Like hanging memories….

    William Carlos Williams

  2. Farewell to the trees | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] posted about the silk tree  (Albizia julibrissin) before, and also about the privet trees (Ligustrum) back there, but not […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: