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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.

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

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Monday - August 09, 2010

From: Levittown, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native chocolate mimosa in Levittown NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I purchased about 2 ft chocolate mimosa tree in early June of this year from a local nursery located in Nassau County, New York. It was doing in our Long Island soil just fine for over a month, I would water it properly. Some time in the 3rd week of July it started dropping its beautiful leaves, though they would not lose their color, not dry out or brown. Now it has no leaves left at all. It has been a very hot summer hear in New York this year, I absolutely doubt that I was stingy on water. I added the MiracleGro to its soil, water even more. I noticed some growth of (buds or suckers) appearing on the trunk now. Is there any hope it will come back to life? There are some other flowers in that spot near its root ball that are blooming without any problem which indicates there is enough water.

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the care and propagation of plants native to North America. Albizia julibrissin (mimosa, silk tree) is a native of Asia from Iran east to China and Korea. Cultivar "Chocolate Mimosa" was developed in Japan and begun recently being imported into the United States. Not only is the mimosa a non-native, but it is on many invasives list; that is, native plant people not only don't recommend you plant it, they recommend you remove it if you've already planted it. See this website from the Plant Conservation Alliance on "Least Wanted" mimosa.
 

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