Colorful Temptation

June 8, 2022


I was driving through a tunnel of green leaves from Wetumpka to Peach Park. It was early June and the corn was shooting up as the mimosas were popping out. The invasive tree always zips me back to being 7 years old on a steamy hot morning, when my Grandmother plucked a pink pom-pom from her mimosa, tickled my nose and sang, “powder puff.” It was a sweet moment as we locked eyes and giggled. I stretched my neck up higher and pushed my nose up for her to do it again, and she laughed and gave it another “fluff-fluff.”

If I didn’t love my neighbor, and fear the homeowners association, I’d fill my yard with all the invasive species  I love, especially mimosa trees. How could anything so pretty be a horticultural nuisance? 

“They spread to other areas and make a mess” is what I’ve always heard. Sometimes they choke out the “good” native plants and damage wildlife in some way, limiting their food supply.

It seems the birds would just learn to eat foreign food. After all, we’ve grown to love exotic food here in Alabama. Just yesterday, I ate spaghetti. Can’t the critters learn to adapt as well? 

Y'all remember this old girl, don't you?

I also love wisteria, but the purple clusters are also discouraged because if neglected,  will spread to nearby trees, fences or buildings where the tenacious vine will choke it out, twist it up or tear it down. 

While I’m thinking about it, am I the only one who thinks utility poles look prettier with kudzu swirling around?

Popcorn trees were the big trend in front yards a few decades ago. The real name was the Chinese Tallow Tree and it made the prettiest white popcorn-like bulbs that looked like Christmas lights. Too bad it damaged wildlife habitats and destroyed local vegetation. I snapped stems to put in flower bouquets before my father chopped our tree down. 

I guess even the plant world reflects worldly temptations.  We're naturally attracted to the bold, flashy things.  The forbidden is often so attractive we’re prone to disregard common sense in favor of colorful excitement.  I remember boys like that. Fun to look at, but trouble with a capital "T." 

If a wayward mimosa ever pops up in my yard, I’ll make a deal to mow and weed in exchange for plucking a powder puff every now and then. 

For now, I’ll keep my well behaved purple Vitex Chaste tree and pink and white crepe myrtles. But don’t you think they’d look even better with a bamboo hedge?

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