Albizia julibrissin Durazz.


Albizia julibrissin plant

Family - Fabaceae

Habit - Small tree, to 10 m.

Stems - Woody, multiple or sometimes single. A tree or shrub to 6m tall. Twigs glabrous, somewhat angled, often growing in a slight "zig-zag" fashion.

Albizia julibrissin stemStem and nodes.

Leaves - Alternate, even bipinnately compound, to 40 cm long. Leaflets opposite, to 1.5 cm long, 20-30 pairs per pinna, glabrous, asymmetric, the midvein near the upper margin. Leaflets close together along the rachis at night.

Albizia julibrissin leafPortion of leaf.

Albizia julibrissin leafletLeaflets.

Inflorescence - Axillary, pedunculate clusters of +/-20 flowers. Clusters subglobose. Flowers sessile.

Albizia julibrissin flowers

Flowers - Corolla tubular, 5-lobed, creamy white to greenish, pubescent. Lobes to 2 mm long, acute. Stamens many per flower, pinkish at tips, whitish at the base, to 2.5 cm long, united at base into tube 3 mm long, glabrous. Style 1, pink, 2 cm long, filiform, glabrous. Ovary terete, green, 3 mm long, 0.5 mm broad. Calyx tube 3 mm long, 5-lobed, appressed pubescent, pale green. Lobes minute. Flowers fragrant.

Albizia julibrissin calyxCalyces.

Albizia julibrissin flowersBuds and flowers.

Fruits - Legumes to 20 cm long, 10-20 mm wide, narrowly oblong, tapered to a short, stalklike base, strongly flattened, straight, the margins sometimes slightly undulate and occasionally more strongly narrowed between a few of the seeds, the surfaces slightly constricted between the seeds, finely hairy when young, usually glabrous or nearly so at maturity, light tan at maturity, indehiscent tardily dehiscent. Seeds 12-18, 7-8 mm long, 4 mm wide, oblong-ovate, flattened, light brown.

Albizia julibrissin fruitFruit.

Flowering - June - September.

Habitat - Cultivated but escaped to dry areas along roadsides, railroads, open woods, thickets, and fence rows.

Origin - Native to Asia.

Other info. - This species is widely cultivated in Missouri for its gracefully spreading leaves and numerous attractive flower clusters. The flowers are very fragrant, especially at night, and are visited by hummingbird moths, Hemaris thysbe, on a regular basis. The plant propagates readily from seed or cuttings and grows rapidly. Unfortunately these attributes have become problematic in areas in the southeast of the state, where the plant becomes invasive in some habitats.

This plant is categorized in the Mimosoideae subfamily, a division characterized by "powder puff" flower clusters, in which the most conspicuous part of the flowers are the stamens. Another common example is Desmanthus illinoensis (Illinois bundleflower).

Photographs taken in Poplar Bluff, MO., 6-11-04 and near Birmingham, AL., 6-20-04 (DETenaglia); also near Pacific, MO, 7-27-2015 (SRTurner).