Albizia julibrissin

Persian Silk Tree

Botanical description: The silk tree is a fast-growing, medium-sized ornamental tree with an enchanting umbrella-like form that is accented with “pom pom” flowers produced throughout the summer. Albizia julibrissin grows rapidly and is often considered a “pioneer” due to its ability to grow in poor soils, generate root suckers when damaged and its resilient reproductive process that allows seeds to lay dormant for several years. Despite its adaptive abilities, which include tolerance of wind, salt and drought, Albizia is never found with the abundance of other urban trees such as Ailanthus. It is always something of a delight to find such a delicate, glamorous tree emerging spontaneously in the city. Also known as the Persian silk tree, or mimosa tree, it was named for its showy flower cluster of pink silk threads. The sweet-smelling flowers are a good source of nectar for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. In some cultures, Albizia julibrissin is also referred to as a “night sleeper” due to its ephemeral habit of closing its leaves during the night. The tree has many uses in traditional Chinese medicine. Dried flowers and bark are infused in a tea that is used as a digestive, carminative, sedative and for the treatment of insomnia, irritability and breathlessness.