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Mr. Smarty Plants - Survival of non-native mimosa in Pennsylvania

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Sunday - June 08, 2008

From: Mercer, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Survival of non-native mimosa in Pennsylvania
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can a mimosa tree survive in Pennsylvania weather?

ANSWER:

In answer to your question, there's good news and bad news. First, the good news; yes,the USDA Plant Profile for this plant shows it growing in Pennsylvania. This tree is considered hardy to Zone 6a (average min. temperature -10 deg). As far as the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is concerned, this is also the bad news. Albizia julibrissen, silk tree or mimosa tree, native to southern and eastern Asia from Iran to China and Korea, is non-native to North America. At the Wildflower Center, we are very committed to the care and propagation of plants native to North America. The reason for that is that natives are adapted to the area in which they live, and therefore require less water, fertilizer and maintenance. Please see the section on our website on Plantwise, discussing the partnership working to educate the public and communities about best management practices to prevent harmful invasive plants from invading parklands and natural areas.

But over and beyond its nativity, there are other reasons to consider this plant undesirable, among them the fact that it is tremendously messy, can be very invasive, it is often very short-lived and breaks down easily, and vascular wilt in the species is becoming widespread. In fact, some cities have passed ordinances outlawing further planting due to the weed potential and wilt disease problems. This Plant Conservation Alliance website Least Wanted sums up some of the many objections to the plant.

In fairness, however, we would like for you to read the posts on this forum, Dave's Garden Mimosa Tree, on which you will find comments from both sides, including at least 2 gardeners growing it in Pennsylvania. This is pretty lengthy, with a lot of strong opinions on both sides of the question, but perhaps it will help you make your decision.

So, if you happen to choose on the native side (which we hope you do), let us suggest some trees well-adapted to Pennsylvania which should make good choices for your environment.

Amelanchier arborea (common serviceberry)

Betula nigra (river birch)

Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud)

Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)

Gleditsia triacanthos (honeylocust)

Chionanthus virginicus (white fringetree)

Ilex opaca (American holly)

Liquidambar styraciflua (sweetgum)


Amelanchier arborea

Betula nigra

Cercis canadensis

Cornus florida

Gleditsia triacanthos

Chionanthus virginicus

Ilex opaca

Liquidambar styraciflua

 

 


 

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