Forestry & Wildlife
AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Don’t let their perfect pink, puff-like blooms deceive you. While beautiful, mimosa trees are a threat to the Southern landscape. Native to the Middle East and Asia, these trees came to the United States in 1785 as an ornamental tree. First planted in South Carolina, they continue to invade the Southeast.
Mimosa Tree Takeover
According to Lynn Dickinson, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System forestry, wildlife and natural resources regional agent, while mimosa trees may be beautiful, they are considered an invasive species.
“An invasive species is an aggressive, non-native plant capable of outcompeting most vegetation,” Dickinson said.
Invasive species can cause environmental damage by displacing native plants and animals. Animals that are dependent on the resources from native trees will struggle because of the mimosa trees.
“Many insects depend on our native species for food and many bird species depend on those insects,” she said. “Without native tree species, we run the risk of losing the insects and the food source for native birds.”
Mimosa trees grow in a variety of different soil types, moisture conditions and natural areas. As they grow and spread, they compete with native species for light, water and nutrients.
“Although pretty, non-native species such as mimosa can do a great deal of harm to our environment,” Dickinson said.
Slow the Spread
Mimosas are on roadsides, streams, forest edges, grasslands, vacant lots and clearings, so slowing the spread is essential. If not controlled now, there is a possibility that these trees may begin to invade northern landscapes if temperatures continue to rise and provide favorable growing conditions.
Since the mimosa tree is so aggressive, it is important to take the needed steps to slow their spread. To begin the process, rid landscapes of mimosa trees by cutting them at ground level. Then, use a herbicide—such as glyphosate—on the stump to prevent new growth. If the tree is still a seedling, landowners can pull those seedlings by hand. However, make sure all of the roots come out of the soil. Lastly, while removing invasive species, planting native species into the area will help restore the environment.
“Managing invasive species while also planting back native alternatives provides us with an opportunity to protect our forested land,” Dickinson said.
For more information on mimosa trees and management of invasive species, visit the Alabama Extension website, www.aces.edu.