Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Friday - August 29, 2008

From: Santa Rosa, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Problems with non-native mimosa
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have 2 large mimosa trees in front of our house that are close to 50 years old. They have not been cared for over the past 8 years (we did not live here). This year, I trimmed them, removed dead branches, etc. The trunk of one of the trees is showing cracks and splits up the trunk that are beginning to worry me. Have these trees likely exceeded their life expectancy? The trunks appear to have split (bark) before and healed, so I'm not sure if these are danger signs or normal for the bark and trunks. Can you advise? Thanks.

ANSWER:

I am amazed at a 50-year old mimosa, maybe it should have its own museum.They are typically fast growing and short-lived. Since at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we are all about the use of plants native to North America as well as to the area in which they are grown, we have no information on the mimosa in our Native Plant Database. For more complete information on the tree, see this site Albizia julibrissin (USDA Forest Service), and notice especially the section on Care and Management. You will learn that the mimosa is a weak-wooded tree, with branches and even trunks often splitting in storms. They are also vulnerable to many pests and diseases, including Mimosa (vascular) wilt, which is fatal to the tree, and is becoming more widespread. The bark is thin and easily damaged from mechanical impact (like a weedeater).

You may realize we don't recommend planting this tree and, in your case, would recommend your trees be replaced with a native tree that does not have the problems the mimosa does. And, finally, in California you should be especially cautious about invasive trees, which the mimosa is. This Plant Conservation Alliance Least Wanted List tells you that because the mimosa tree can grow in a variety of soils, produce large seed crops, and resprout when damaged, it is a strong competitor to native trees and shrubs in open areas or forest edges. If you remove the trees, you might consider replacing them with Chilopsis linearis (desert willow) or Prosopis glandulosa (honey mesquite), both of which are native to California and have a similar lacy, almost fern-like, look. 


Chilopsis linearis

Chilopsis linearis

Prosopis glandulosa

Prosopis glandulosa

 

 


 

More Non-Natives Questions

Problems with beheaded non-native Gerbera daisies in Cooperstown, NY
May 31, 2009 - I planted my gerberas in my perennial bed - as usual. Something is beheading them and leaving the blooms along side the plant. Some of the bloom is eaten but most of it is right there. I have t...
view the full question and answer

Trees for shade in Austin
May 20, 2012 - I live in Austin and I am looking for a good tree to plant under a large live oak I have in my backyard. Something slow-growing of course and, the garden only gets late day sun for about an hour. Filt...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for grass under non-native weeping willow from Yorba Linda CA
April 24, 2012 - What would be a good replacement for the grass currently growing under a weeping willow? Something requiring low maintenance, the problem is with mowing over and around the roots.
view the full question and answer

Browning leaves on non-native Burford holly
August 22, 2008 - I have several dwarf Burford hollies whose leaves are browning. The individual leaves have colors of green, dark brown to light brown extending from the stem. Any ideas?
view the full question and answer

Non-native Cape Honeysuckle, Tecomaria capensis
March 13, 2006 - I am trying to find general information on the Cape Honeysuckle or "Tecomaria" bush/plant. Is is related to the actual Honeysuckle Plant? What is it's care, propogation, sun tolerance, water requ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.