Mimosa Silk Tree

by Green Deane

in Greens/Pot Herb, Medicinal, Plants, Soap/Saponins, Trees/Shrubs

Albizia julibrissin: Tripinnated Lunch

I was drinking “Mimosas” — orange juice and champagne — about 20 years before I discovered the Mimosa tree was edible. That makes some sense when you realize the tree and the drink have nothing in common except the name (so called because the drink was as smooth as the Mimosa blossom.)

Mimosa blossoms and leaves

Some sites on the Internet say the first tree came the United States in the early 1900s in California. This is doubtful. William Bartram, a botanist who explored Florida and followed a trail not one mile from here, wrote a letter to Thomas Jefferson in which he mentions the “mimosa.” He said they were introduced into North Carolina in the late 1700s by none the less than Andre Michaux, the original grand old man of botany in the New World. Gopher Apples are named after him, Licania Michauxii. The next question would be where did Michaux get them? The answer is Europe.

The Mimosa is called Albizia julibrissin (al-BIZ-zee-uh jew-lih-BRISS-in) It was named after the Italian nobleman Filippo del Albizzi, who introduced the tree to Europe in the mid 1700’s. Julibrissin is a corruption of the Persian phrase “Gul-i Abrisham” which means ‘flower of silk.’ Where did Albizzi get it? The tree is native to southern and eastern Asia, from Iran east to China and Korea, perhaps even Japan where I saw many a life time ago when I was in my early 20’s.

My particular tree was a seeding runt along a path I frequented. The long pod, horizontal seeds, and tripinnate leaf helped with the identification. It is not a large tree but in 200 years it has managed to spread up to southern New England, down to Florida, west through the Old South, across Texas, and up the west coast of the United States.

Usually very picturesque, it has graceful, lacy leaves and delicate, pink pompom-like flowers. Those are followed by a flat paper brown seed pods with the seeds perpendicular to the sides of the pod. They are not edible.* It’s young leaves, however, are edible cooked. The Mimosa (Silk Tree) also has numerous herbal and medical applications.

(*I have received one email from a fellow who says his grandmother used to serve him seeds in a tortilla, a practice I have not been able to confirm.)

Green Deane’s “Itemized” Plant Profile

IDENTIFICATION: A small deciduous tree growing to 40 feet, broad crown, level or arching branches. Bark is dark green/gray striped vertically as it ages. Leaves tripinnate, flowers densely throughout summer, no petals, a cluster of stamens, white, pink with a white base, looking like silky threads.

TIME OF YEAR: All times of year. Young leaves as long as it is producing them.

ENVIRONMENT: Prefers dry, waste areas, or up hill banks from roads, railroads and right of ways.

METHOD OF PREPARATION: Boiled young leaves.  The blossoms are edible like a vegetable or crystallized. The seeds are NOT edible as far as I know.


School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing 100083, People’s Republic of China. Department of Natural Products Chemistry, Shenyang Pharmaceutical University, Shenyang 110016, People’s Republic of China. Accepted 2 February 2006.

Three new triterpenoid saponins, julibroside J29 (1), julibroside J30 (2), and julibroside J31 (3), were isolated from the stem bark of Albizia julibrissin Durazz. (Leguminosae) by using chromatographic method. Their structures were established by spectroscopic methods. Compounds 1, 2, and 3 displayed significant anti-tumor activities in vitro against PC-3M-1E8, HeLa, and MDA-MB-435 cancer cell lines at 10 μM assayed by SRB and MTT methods.



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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

marty July 7, 2017 at 18:51

I have seen my tree dripping something on a dry day ,I couldn’t tell what it was ,it was when it was in bloom with pink and white silky blooms ,does anybody know what was dripping it was almost as thick as a shower and the sky was clear, a sli shower just streams of dripping and couldn make out where it was coming from .noticed it coming from the part over the house ,wonder if it was sap of some kind .any body know?


Bobby August 23, 2016 at 22:31

Everything I read says the seed pods contain a neurotoxin that can kill you.


Sally July 31, 2016 at 03:21

I have that i discover now that i learning it cool silky flower i ate pink silk i love the smell it help me sleep i going to learn more i want to make a tea n hair rinse n use the pod n eat leaf maybe but i just ate the silky flower kind of cool ….Mimosa cool so happy smell happiness …i post more i like this i have it in my back yd it didn.t die i thought it did wind tore branch crack it but guess what it come back it growing tuff beautiful tree


Deb November 24, 2015 at 12:32

Mexicans gather the seeds to put in a recipe like beans. The local farmers market, in Houston, Tx. , sells them in bundles, secured by rubberbands. The particular type mimosa that I would see them harvest from, had a fuzzy ball type flower, not just the pink radial flower. There were a couple of these trees on the apartment grounds. I don’t know if this makes a difference as to if one variety’s seed is more edible than the other variety, they seem to have the same sort of seeds and pods. Testing would reveal any toxicity or the lack thereof. But people do eat the seeds of that kind, I can report.


Karen June 22, 2016 at 13:34

This sounds like a Leucaena leucocephala tree.


RM McWilliams March 7, 2017 at 11:01

You are referring to a different species of tree, not simply another variety, or even a different cultivar (domestic variety, basically) or the same species. So yes, edibility of different species that look similar to the casual viewer, or with the same common name is NOT necessarily the same!


Colleen Forrest March 12, 2017 at 12:20

I was just reading a Mexican cookbook where they used a seed pod from the guaje tree. The leaf looks very similar to a mimosa, but the flowers are white. I came here looking to see if my lovely mimosa seed pods were edible as well. Sadly, it looks like the verdict is no 🙁


Robbyn November 12, 2015 at 02:33

I recently looked this plant up and found conflicting info about the seeds and pods…some sites said they were toxic and I believe a couple said they are neurotoxins. Just the seeds and pods…the bosoms and bark were said to be safe medicinals? How does one know which sources are accurate?


Green Deane November 12, 2015 at 08:35

That is a problem isn’t it. Worse they often don’t identify the exact species. Personal experience is one measure, but also university sites tend to be more accurate as they are professionally and academically inclined to be careful and correct.


houstpn aultman May 19, 2015 at 21:01

Flowers smell like corn silk slight bitter taste .not bad taste over all. The wood is very flexible they work grate for tomatoes stakes .still looking for medicinal properties.


charles December 14, 2014 at 17:08

Just wanted to say that the true mimosas have many medicinal uses in Eastern medicine.

True mimosas, however, are not found growing wild in the USA. The tree growing wild is the false mimosa, aka silk tree.

These have different uses, and different toxicities.
Please accurately identify a species and be positive before consuming any part.
Google ‘mimosa hostilis’ and ‘mimosa silktree’. If you can tell the eaves apart, do not consume.

Id advice consulting a professional herbalist before collecting wild foods and medicinals.


Heather May 16, 2017 at 15:48

She identified the tree as Albizia julibrissin, aka the Persian Silk Tree.


lee August 30, 2014 at 10:40

Just yesterday I was informed of the mimosas supposed benefit especially in regards to its benefit for people who struggle with PTSD. The person who shared the information spoke of the readiness of the individuals to be committed to that end. Reading of its frequent use to quiet the mind, help with insomnia, and act as an aid in growing spiritually, I hope it’s not too good to be true. I have been more ready to release those events than words are adequate. Please if anyone has insight in this bent-share it


mary March 13, 2016 at 20:30

I picked mimosa flowers last year, and tinctured them. I then was taken 5cc of the tincture for my mild depression. In my opinion, it did seem to help. It just seemed like everything wasn’t pressing down on me anymore. I live south of Houston, if that makes a difference.


Mary January 15, 2017 at 22:43

How did you make the tincture if I may ask? I have 2 40 ft. Mimosa trees and want as much info as I can gather. Thank you for your response in advance.


Mary July 13, 2014 at 01:43

I have LOVED Mimosas since my childhood. I did everything around the Mimosa tree! Hung all over it at the bus stop, sold sno cones under it in the summer… We had several sprouts from it in the yard in NJ, but they tend to get ill a lot. Some disease runs up the bark. My father chopped my tree down early one morning before I woke up, or I would’ve chained myself to it! Now I have one that I planted several years ago in a yard in Oregon. The other day it suddenly split in two! Half of it fell down. It looks as though there are some bugs in it. I’d like some suggestions to get rid of the bugs and tend to the part of the tree that’s still standing. I haven’t seen any shoots in the yard here from the tree and I would like to find some to plant a new one in the front yard. We will try eating the leaves and blossoms of the fallen tree to make use of it. I like the wood too!


Liz July 7, 2014 at 08:55

One of my students told me her grandmother from Thailand frequently the seeds from the green pods. I haven’t tried them yet, but only because I can’t reach them.


Scotty July 3, 2014 at 20:46

Well, as one should never do Im running out to eat some seed right now after reading this. The mimosa is all over the place here and I am planning to grow hundreds of these for chop and drop garden fertilizer in an alley cropping system. I just love this site!!!!


david June 16, 2014 at 19:21

i though my mimosa was dead this year, but it is making a good come back ,it is a 24 year old tree, never had trouble before with it /thank god /thank you for this site god bless you /nature boy*““““““““


kathie June 11, 2014 at 11:52

I am curious to learn if your mimosa tree made it through this past winter? I have one that is about 15 years old. It has not leafed out yet and it is mid June. HELP!


Patricia May 15, 2014 at 10:56

I grew up around Mimosa trees and have always loved them! I can confirm the flower is edible and has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. It is used for sleep disturbances and as a shen tonic which translates to spirit tonic. Spirit tonics are used to calm the mind and be able to develop spiritually. Many people who use it for this purpose have been Buddhist or Taoist. I can confirm that it works for Messianic Jews also to get closer to Yahweh. The reason being when the mind and heart are clear and calm, we can develop spiritually no matter what our belief is. Just pick the right one! 🙂

On the side of planting and growing, we found a Mimosa about 4-1/2 feet tall and planted it on Mother’s day in an area of our yard that gets rather wet when it rains. Should we move it to a dryer, well drained area? Is it losing its leaves from being a transplant? They were completely wilted the day after we planted it till it received water and went back to normal. Then the 3rd day they were all wilted again and this time started falling off. Today, the 4th day most leaves are gone.

My browser keeps stalling so if this is a duplicate post, please just delete it.


RM McWilliams March 7, 2017 at 11:07

Generally, trees should only be transplanted when dormant.


RM McWilliams February 3, 2014 at 11:56

Deane, Have you personally prepared and eaten mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) leaves? And blossoms? A noted plant and permaculture authority in New England recommends this plant as a nitrogen fixer, an ornamental one, at that, but says that ‘though the leaves are said to be edible, I think they taste terrible’. I wonder if this is because of variation
between individual specimens? Or differences in soil and mineral content of the soil affecting the flavor? Or a different climate? Or… individual taste. I presume this authority knows to pick the very young leaves, and to cook them first.

By the way, since many people don’t know how to cook anything (opening a package and microwaving it does not count!) , your videos illustrating preparation and the recipies you include on this site are a valuable resource. Thank you!!


Joe September 16, 2013 at 15:45

I eat the leaves of the mimosa tree raw and haven’t had a problem. I also chew on young shoots without issues. So the Albizia julibrissin leaves and shoots are edible raw. I’m not sure about the flower though.


mrs. d August 16, 2013 at 02:58

I’m excited about finding this web page. I ate some podes but no effects


mrs. d August 16, 2013 at 02:33

I finally found a site that I relate too. Thank goddness I’m going to taste the podes right now. I will let you know the outcome


Ronyon August 10, 2013 at 16:55


Could this be the Mimosa that people are thinking of when they speak of eating the seed?


charley August 9, 2013 at 15:04

seen it mention that it was usable in treating leg ulcers, how is the mimosa tree processed for this use?


Richard July 19, 2013 at 11:35

Where can we buy theses at? Also we live in Tucson, Az. When is the right time to plant them.
Thank you


Jill Warren Lucas June 20, 2013 at 21:13

Glad to find this site. Are the blossoms tasty? They are so abundant right now. I’m interested in making an infusion for a simple syrup or jelly.


Dogafin June 3, 2013 at 09:16

I just cooked some young shoots and flowers into a pot with sinigang (tamarind) soup mix, with daikon onion garlic and tomatoes, it would be nice with pork and taro but didn’t have any. I’ll have it over rice for breakfast this morning 🙂
The leaves are very similar to the sampaloc (tamarind) tree, although not sour when eaten raw. When picking shoots I chose parts that are easily plucked off by my fingers, I did however avoided the cauliflower like parts around the blooms. There were no seed pods on the tree I harvested from. Wish me luck! As it is my first time cooking with mimosa.


Barbara March 11, 2013 at 05:33

I used to eat the very young seed pods all the time growing up and I was and am quite healthy. I thought the flavor was pleasant, not unlike rose petals or oxalis, which I also ate routinely along with clover and most of the rest of the yard. I never ate the flowers though. Almost seems like trying to eat the choke of an artichoke.


Kay January 29, 2013 at 13:57

I absolutely love, love, love this website!

Can I plant the seeds with any success? Do I need to scarify or not? How long to sprout? Should they be kept in shade or part sun? On the dry side or moist until it sprouts?


Green Deane January 29, 2013 at 16:26

Insert the silk tree seeds about half an inch deep in moist potting soil. The area should be warm (around 75 F) and preferably in direct sunlight. Keep the soil lightly moist and beware over watering it. It only needs to be watered two or three times a week.
In about 10 days, the silk tree seeds will begin to sprout. Continue to keep them warm and lightly watered. Seedlings can be transplanted. Cultivate it intelligently. They can be invasive.


Herb November 9, 2012 at 12:56

I’m fine. I’ve eaten a few pods worth of seeds and my only concern is how I should cook them before adding them to a tortilla.

Obviously, the reader should take this for what it’s worth. Not much, considering I’m an random Internet commenter. Hopefully some one else can confirm that the seeds are edible.


Green Deane November 9, 2012 at 13:06

How do we confirm the exact variety of Mimosa Silk Tree?


Sonuahua January 2, 2013 at 21:17

My girls are still alive and they have eaten plenty of them over the years… no cancer or organ failure, just hearty Missouri girls… 🙂


Green Deane January 2, 2013 at 21:41

Please, eaten what part of the tree, when collected, and how prepared?


Devon August 5, 2013 at 20:09

ive personally eaten quite a bit of the pods and havent had an issue
i just peel open 1 of the green pods and eat the seeds raw, they taste pretty good
also this website here says you can use the bark in teas, can you confirm this? http://hollirichey.com/2010/06/21/mimosa-the-tree-not-the-drink-brings-happiness/
by the way, im not sure of the exact species of mimosa tree but i live in northwest florida and they grow on just about every street here.i have sampled from multiple trees without issue


RM McWilliams February 3, 2014 at 00:20

Sonuahua, thanks for sharing the info about your girls eating the seeds of the mimosa tree.

By the way, are they hearty, or hardy? Or both? *smile!*


Herb November 8, 2012 at 14:45

I just saw someone collecting the green seed pods from a mimosa tree and eating the seeds raw. After he left I collected a branch with leaves and green seed pods so I could identify it. A few google searches later, I found out it was a Mimosa. While your article says the seeds are not edible, I have to tell you that while the brown, dried out pods are full of rock hard seeds you couldn’t eat without chipping a tooth, the green pods are full of pumpkin seed shaped seeds that taste like peas. I only tried a few in case they are actually poisonous or something. I will post again in a day or so if I’m still alive.


Jen April 29, 2012 at 19:24

As a child, I ate a few of the seeds on a dare and don’t remember being ill.


Krysta March 19, 2012 at 21:36

In another article you state that the “blossoms” are edible. Is it the flossy fan like part, or the bunches that are edible, and how/when would they be harvested and prepared? I was surprised to see a couple of these trees thriving here in Windsor Ontario, and would be very interested to find out about the edible parts.


Green Deane March 19, 2012 at 22:18

Non-green parts — the blossom — boiled.


Sophia January 21, 2012 at 18:31

We have quite a few trees in my neighborhood which are Aibizzia lebbeck species. I have heard that they have some medicinal use, too, but I am wondering if you know if they can be used in the ways you describe for A. julibrissin.


Green Deane January 23, 2012 at 06:48

As far as I know the A. lebbeck has only medicinal uses.


Marabou March 11, 2012 at 12:45

I haven’t tried it yet, but a. lebbeck is known as zuek in Thailand. I haven’t researched potential toxicity, but
“Albizia lebbeck (L.) Bent. (Albizia, Phak zuek), is the most interesting perennial vegetable, it belongs to legume family. The young shoots and leaves are consumed as vegetable. They are commonly blanched and eaten with nam prik (chili paste). The shoots and leaves are also put in curry soup such as klaeng pa, kaeng som, kaeng liang and etc. with smoke-dried fish.”


Robert M. November 15, 2011 at 13:44

It is a good friction wood also. I have not really tested the bark for cordage much but it is doable for a cord. Its strength may be another matter and I have not really tested that yet.

There is a wild shrub (does not grow as large or tall as the Mimosa) that I often see in the woods that is like a Mimosa by its leaves and leaf pattern is similar. Maybe darker in color. Blooms are different than a Mimosa also. It will not work as a friction wood, nor is its bark fibrous like the Mimosa. I just don’t know the name of it yet but it can be mistaken for a young Mimosa.


John September 2, 2015 at 00:14

Partridge pea?


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