Sow there! – Mimosa tradeoffs: shade vs. trash, July 14, 2016

Last week a drive-through coffee barista, who may or my not have been wearing a man-bun, caught me off guard. I wasn’t ready to have a quick but meaningful conversation about my plans for the day. What I really needed was 20 ounces of caffeine.

Don’t get me wrong, this energy-drink fueled young man was pleasant and perky. He simply talked at a pace about three times faster than my ability to comprehend.

Something about this man’s cheerful attitude at 7:45 a.m. on a Saturday made me want to lie.

What was I doing that day?

“I’m on my way to put my pet to sleep. After that, I’m off to jail to bail my cousin.

“But first, I just need to fuel up on some caffeine. Thanks!”

Without coffee, alas, I was too tired to conjure up a lie, so I simply mumbled something unintelligible.

Mimosa madness

“It looks like you have some carpet on your windshield,” the young man observed.

He was talking about the blond tufts of tree fur that had fallen from the mimosa tree.

I had not yet noticed the tawny flakes of mimosa tree waste, even though it had created a fur collar around the bottom of my car windshield.

Mr. Chipper suggested I hop on the freeway and let it blow away. I resisted the urge to turn on my windshield wipers right then and there.

The ugly

Also known as the silk tree, or the Latin name Albizia julibrissin, I really dislike this tree. In early summer the flowers look like soft pink pom-poms. When they fade a willowy, light-brown blanket of tree gunk covers the yard.

The barista noticed the tree trash on my car after only one night parked in my driveway.

But wait, there‘s more.

In the fall, the seed pods accumulate in that little space between the windshield and the hood of the car, causing a rattle if I turn on the heater. Young trees sprout overnight, in flower pots, near fence posts in the lawns of homes within walking distance.

My friend Lincoln, who didn’t exactly love gardening, had so many mimosa seedlings in his front yard he could have trimmed them with a lawn mower.

Many sources including the University of Florida,, cite the mimosa as an invasive tree that chokes out native plants along waterways.


However, butterflies love this plant. I can vividly recall one evening near the Sacramento River when dark butterflies in a mimosa made the tree shiver.

The mimosa also provides an abundant amount of shade and makes a very pleasant sound in a light breeze.

The tree in my yard is the largest on the block, which means all of those volunteers in the neighborhood may have originated in my yard. The trees are only expected to live for 20 years.

This brings up an entirely new sense of dread. The tree is known to have “weak wood,” and I worry it could flop over one morning.

I wonder what the cheery barista would say that day.

“Ma’am, did you notice a tree is stuck the hood of your car?”

Contact reporter Heather Hacking at 896-7758.

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