mimosa or florida flame? - Knowledgebase Question

lauderhill, Fl
Question by edel1w
November 20, 2009
up north we call it mimosa tree with soft spike red flowers. the leaves are 15 seperate leafs on one leaf spine. what is it?

Answer from NGA
November 20, 2009


The tree called Florida Flame tree is Royal poinciana, a flamboyant tree in flower - some say the world's most colorful tree. For several weeks in spring and summer it is covered with exuberant clusters of flame-red flowers, 4-5 in across. Even up close the individual flowers are striking: they have four spoon shaped spreading scarlet or orange-red petals about 3 in long, and one upright slightly larger petal (the standard) which is marked with yellow and white. Royal poinciana gets 30-40 ft tall, but its elegant wide-spreading umbrella-like canopy can be wider than its height. Royal poinciana is deciduous in climates that have a marked dry season, but in Florida and other areas where the winter is not that much dryer than the summer, it is a semi-evergreen tree. Even the leaves are elegant: they are lacy and fernlike, twice-pinnate, and 12-20 in long with 20-40 pairs of primary leaflets (pinnae), each divided into 10-20 pairs of secondary leaflets (pinules). The dark brown pods are flat and woody, up to 24 in long and 2 in wide.

Mimosa tree is Albizia julibrissin, a deciduous, small to medium-sized tree that can grow 20 to 40 feet tall. It is a member of the legume (Fabaceae) plant family. The bark is light brown and smooth while young stems are lime green in color, turning light brown and covered with lenticels. Leaves are alternately arranged and bipinnately compound (6 to 20 inches long), having 20 to 60 leaflets per branch. The leaf arrangement gives mimosa a fern-like or feathery appearance. Mimosa flowering occurs from May through July. Pom-pom flowers are borne in terminal clusters at the base of the current year?s twigs. The flowers are fragrant and reddish-pink in color, about 1? inches long. Fruits are flat and in pods, a characteristic of many legumes. Pods are straw-colored and 6 inches long containing 5 to 10 light brown oval-shaped seeds about ? inch in length. Pods typically persist on the plant through the winter months.

Both trees grow well in Florida and one of the only sure ways to tell them apart is by comparing their flowers. Hope this information helps you determine which tree you have!

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