Mimosa trees considered invasive species in the Tennessee Valley
Like the Bradford Pear, the mimosa tree isn't native to the United States.
Like the Bradford Pear, the mimosa tree isn't native to the United States. After being brought to this county, it became an invasive species over the decades. Mimosas line many areas of the Volunteer State's landscape, including Chattanooga's, with their large leaves and pink flowers.
"It's an attractive tree. It has feathery foliage. It has a very fragrant attractive flower," city forester Gene Hyde said. "What's not to like about it?"
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They've been here for a long time, and for Hyde, they even bring back childhood memories.
"I can remember my grandparents having one of these in their yard back in the early 1950s," Hyde recalled.
However, they also have an ugly side.
"It's a very invasive tree that takes over native ecosystems. It crowds out the native foliage, the native plants and vegetation," Hyde explained.
Their shade blocks nutrients produced by sunlight, and these trees are tough. After their pods burst in the wind, their seeds spread quickly and for long distances. Also, mimosas, scientific name Albizia julibrissin, can remain fertile even during long droughts, and they can handle extremely cold weather.
Hyde said that some animals don't stand a chance where mimosas have taken over.
"All of a sudden they don't have that food source anymore," Hyde added. "They either get displaced and leave, or they die."
The mimosa is native to parts of Asia where controls might have been in place to manage its population. This didn't happen after arriving in the US, and nature hasn't been able to help.
"There's not a whole lot of things that predate against it or feed on it to keep that population under control, and it just goes wild," Hyde said.
Some experts argue that Mimosas have some benefits such as acting as a natural de-wormer for woodland creatures, or providing shade around your home.
Hyde thinks the cons outweigh the pros. There's not enough manpower to get rid of all the Mimosas, but he says you can help the problem by not planting them at home.
"Be a good steward of your yard, of your property, and think about those native ecosystems. Please don't do it," Hyde urged.