Several dozen mimosa trees, a non-native invasive species, have taken root in Wilmington’s Halyburton Park and will be removed during the coming months, according to park officials.
“Removing them is important to us,” said Andy Fairbanks, recreation supervisor at Halyburton. “They really out compete native species, and since the park is a significant natural area, it’s important for us as stewards of the preserve to remove them so they don’t become well-established.”
Mimosa trees are native to China and were first introduced to the United States in the 1700s. The species is a pretty, ornamental tree with fern-like leaves that can grow to 50 feet tall. The trees sport fragrant pink blossoms from May through July.
They’ve spread throughout the Southeast for years and tend to survive for about two decades in North Carolina, eventually succumbing to a fungal wilt disease present in Tar Heel soil, said Al Hight, director of the New Hanover County Cooperative Extension.
“There is a disease in our soil that kills them, so they’re not long-lived here,” Hight said. “It’s called fusarium wilt. They live for 15 to 20 years at the most, and then they just die.”
During their lifespan, the trees can proliferate quickly. Mimosas produce large amounts of seed that take root after being spread by water and animals. The trees also can be difficult to kill without pesticides, as they tend to re-sprout even when the plants are cut back or damaged.
Still, there’s no concerted effort to eradicate them from the state, Hight said.