Along for the ride:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Silk Trees

Silk Tree or Silky Acacia/Mimosa (Albizia Julibrissin.
We are lucky to have a couple of silk trees shading the front of our house. They are currently in full leaf and flower, attracting bees and humming birds and cloaking us with a cool green protection from the afternoon sun. The horizontal, parasol-like spread of the canopy and the puff-ball delicate flowers are a luxurious surprise every year, from a starkly naked tree that fills in it's greenness much later than other neighborhood trees. One day the first green fingers of the leaves appear and shortly thereafter you can't see our house at all.
The trees are messy, dropping ghostly, colorless spirit- versions of the pristine and delicate flowers. They clump together and accumulate like an old-man's-beard, shorn and accumulating in wind-drifts by the steps and trapped in lumpy contrast on the bright, geometric spikiness of the dahlia heads below. They blow over the house to the back garden, which would surely become a forest of silk trees if I let it.
Soon we will have long seed-pods dangling down, much like those on a wisteria vine. As they ripen, then dry they will twist as they pop, the empty husks will rattle in the wind, then they too will fall, crunchy underfoot. A few weeks from now anywhere that receives water from my sprinklers will have sprung volunteer life in the form of small, want-to-be-trees, that grow visibly taller every day. Luckily they are easily extracted but will account for a weekend or two of my time to eliminate the invasion.
I don't mind the messiness, it represents an abundance of beauty and weighs lightly on the scale of pros and cons.
It's time to head home. Once I am done fighting freeway traffic I will enter my house and appreciate the aquatic-green light filtering in the windows, as cool as a trout gazing up from the river's depths. The muted luminosity is full of shadows and movement as the long-fingered leaf fronds lift and wave and mime in conversation with the wind.

Picture added 7/23/09
This is what I know as a Mimosa Tree. In early spring they are all over Provence and we have them in California too.

18 comments:

  1. Very lovely - we don't have those here.

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  2. The Mimosa is my favorite tree, I have several.

    The old man next door that had to sell out has maybe the biggest and oldest Catawba tree in this part of the state. Everyday that it still stands I'm thankful the developers may try to work around it. When it blooms, it looks like a billion purple iris and each bloom looks like an individual flower.

    Art students used to come out every year, just to draw that one tree.

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  3. Very lovely post, ma chère. Very lovely indeed.

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  4. uhhh..those trees just look stunning! How nice must it be to live somewhere hot enough to let such trees block the light.. over here if you have a tree blocking even the tinyiest sprawl of light, it's dead!....

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  5. Lovely post, I love my trees, never had enough land for trees before I moved to France.

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  6. Ah, the Mimosa. We had one here and, as you said, it took over by planting babies all over the place. I think a few children are still lurking somewhere after parent tree passed on.

    Still beautiful additions to the landscape, however, and your love for them oozes from every word. Luscious descriptions.

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  7. Such beautiful trees! How lucky you are to have some in your own yard... I have missed reading your writings!

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  8. Shattered; I should sulk because you neglected me (you do know when someone's kidding, right?) but I am too glad that you came back.

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  9. Watercats; I know you don't have the same relentless blue sky that we have. Our hills are all scorched golden beige. We won't see green again until October. I am happy that these trees are deciduous. Never plant evergreens next to a house.

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  10. A wonderful, magical post about a wonderful, magical tree. I have never heard of a silk tree, the name alone allows you to conjure up magical images.

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  11. When we moved into the house we're in now about 5 years ago, there was lovely mimosa tree on the side that had branches right by our bedroom window. I loved looking at the almost fern-like leaves on it, and the flowers were heaven. But the previous owner's dog had spent alot of time and energy scratching at the trunk of that tree for some reason only knowable to the dog, and had damaged it so badly that the trunk rotted, and it fell over one day... much to our disappointment. They are gorgeous trees, even if a little messy...

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  12. Owen,
    The trees we called Mimosa in France were the ones with yellow puffy balls of flowers in the spring. The ones which gave their name to champagne and orange juice, which in England may be called a Buck's Fizz. All this to say that my trees are pink.

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  13. I'm so excited to find someone who has a love affair going on with their Silk Trees! Just yesterday I was out talking to mine (really) while hummingbirds and honeybees darted and floated in and around the canopy of the tree, and I decided I must take some photos and get them on my blog! If I do I will definitely link to your post because you've described them so beautifully.

    Interesting that people call the Silk Tree a Mimosa. That's what the realtor who sold us the house named it. I was so enchanted with the tree that I researched quite a lot about it. Mimosa is a different tree, but the Silk Tree is referred to as a Mimosa in N. America especially. I read that the Silk Tree is considered a dastardly weed in some sections of the country. But it is also considered a Sacred Tree by ancients according to one book I read . . .

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  14. Hi Lydia,
    I agree. It is confusing to me too. The Mimosa I know is different. Same family though. Can you spot my house under the trees?

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  15. For my tree loving followers, I have added a photo of "my version" of a Mimosa tree to the original post.

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  16. Hi! I just posted about our Silk Tree and linked back to this great post of yours. Thank you for adding the photo of the Mimosa to your post. I can honestly say that I don't think I've seen one of those in this part of Oregon.

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  17. Hi Lydia, I'd love to know what the trees think, being blogged about. Shrug branches maybe?

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