Albizia Summer Chocolate

Ashdown, AR(Zone 8a)

I need a nice specimen street side tree and really have my heart set on albizia Summer Chocolate. Have my vendor picked out but don't want to order until I get some feedback. I'm wanting to plant it next to the curb right next to the driveway that leads to our back yard.. I never trust the catalogs or websites descriptions of growth and eventual maturity so I'm wondering if someone is growing this tree in simular area and can give me the real scoop on this tree. Condition are full sun an slooping lawn that stays pretty dry during summer months because no matter how I position the sprinklers it's an odd area and I never seem to be able to hit that area for a good watering.....unless I want to water the street.Any warnings on it's roots and spetic systems?


Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Isn't Albizia considered invasive in your area? I know it's invasive in many areas of the south/east parts of the country and I've never heard that Summer Chocolate is sterile, so I wouldn't expect it to be any less of a problem than the green leaf varieties. So I'd definitely do some homework on that before you plant. The growth habit of this one is similar to the green varieties so I'd expect a similar size at maturity, but it's a fairly new cultivar, so I don't know if you'll find too many people that have large mature ones yet. As far as I know, Albizia doesn't have super aggressive water-seeking roots like willows so if there's a lot of distance between the tree and the septic then you should be fine. But if the tree is fairly close to the septic, Albizia is a rather wide-spreading tree so the root system would also be wider-spreading than some trees, and you don't want any tree planted close enough to the septic that its roots could spread into the area so I wouldn't plant it unless you can maintain a good distance between the tree & the septic.

Ashdown, AR(Zone 8a)

I'v e seen seeds offered but it has to be grafted from what I've read. Yes,the regular mimosas can be trashy.Summer Chocolate is so pretty and if I'm going to have a mimosa problem,I just as soon it be this variety.

I am also looking at :
Cotinus Golden Spirit
Acer palmatum First Ghost
Cercis Floating Cloud
Cornus kousa Snowboy
Ginkgo Sunstream

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

In order to get 'Summer Chocolate', you'd need a grafted plant or one grown from a cutting. The tree is perfectly capable of setting seeds though--it's just that the dark foliage color is unlikely to come true so the seedlings that pop up are likely to be the trashy green variety.

In your area, I'd probably go with one of your other options--all of those are smaller trees and less likely to get their roots anywhere near your septic, and they also won't be pesky problems like mimosa can be. However--how much sun does the area get? Japanese maples will definitely need some afternoon shade in your climate, and Cercis & Cornus are understory trees in nature so they may be happier without hot afternoon sun beating down on them too.

Ashdown, AR(Zone 8a)

I have a volunteer native red bud on that same curb that's doing just fine in all day sun but I don't know that the variegated one wouldn't burn. I love the gold on the smoke tree but it's more of a large shrub than tree. Here we can grow Bloodgood JM in full sun but again the Snowboy is variegated and may get sunburned w/o shade so it really comes down to the variegated ginkgo,doen't it.Still want the other trees but I guess I'd have to find another place in the yard.

Belton, TX

Hi, Peggy...I have several Chocolate Mimosas...culturally, they do require a graft or rooted cutting for reproduction and it is one of the hardest trees I have ever tried to reproduce!....the seeds are sterile or the one that actually sprouted was green. Cuttings are difficult and often do not get the result you want...A plant from a reputable dealer is the best solution.

My trees are 3 years old and planted in full sun...they do get water in our hot summers (TX), but it is because I put a slow, slow water drip on it overnight about once every two weeks. This mimosa does not behave as the others do...roots into water system, too many seedlings, lots of trash on the ground, etc. The Chocolate has none of these characteristics...

I might also add that this plant is held under a very tight PPAF and the originators are actively pursuing those that do not pay the PPAF...

I have Cotinus 'Golden Spirit', Cercis 'Hearts of Gold' and 'Lavender Twist/Covey', Cornus 'Aurora', and 'Celestial'/Rutdan Series, and Ginkgo 'Autumn Gold' and 'Saratoga'...all of which would do well for you in that spot.

However, from a design perspective, the variegated, dappled, tri-colored, etc. plants are more spectacular in dappled provides greater contrast of the variegation against a green or solid background...just a thought.

Thanks, MaryAnn

Ashdown, AR(Zone 8a)

Your yard must be spectacular!

Belton, TX

I don't know about that...I like it. When I said I 'had' the cotinus, cercis, cornus and gingko, I meant that I had them in pots in the nursery...the PPAF fees are a bear, but the trees are sooo beautiful!...I am personally partial to the 'golden' plants...or the dark, dark ones...there must be something physological about those likes! LOL

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

I tried, but couldn't get Snowboy to be happy.
Fried in too much sun, mildewed in too much shade.
I gave up on him.

I have cercis canadensis Silver Cloud, if that's the same cultivar?
Mine is finally very happy, but it took years to get established.
It's in a pretty shaded location.
I never tried him in full sun, but I suspect would burn.

Cotinus golden spirit is growing happily in partly shaded site.
But I think it would do fine in blazing sun.
I'm not sure how big it can get.
I have cotinus Grace, which is certainly a genuine tree.

How about a katsura (weeping or otherwise)?
Tolerates full sun, nice foliage, moderate size ...

Belton, TX

Good suggestion on katsura...!

Ashdown, AR(Zone 8a)

Had my heart set on some of these fancier trees but guess not for dry,full sun. May have to go with some of the hardier natives.

MA, I know what you mean about the fees. Pretty much why I stopped buying from Terra Nova. In my location,people won't pay the price. I am however thinking of carrying the Summer Chocolate and have found a wholesale vendor but still,whatever direction I go,I still want one for my yard.

Belton, TX

I know what you mean, Peg...the heart can not be denied...I have a really good wholesaler nearer to you than to me...let me know if I can help...

By the way, have you thought of Purple Smoketree?...not the newer hybrids, but the native. It can easily take the sun and grows quicker than some of the other plants...I have good-sized purple smoketrees, Royal Cloak, and Black Velvet now that are small enough to mail/ship, but large enough to make a statement next spring...

Ashdown, AR(Zone 8a)

I have a couple of seed grown purple smoke trees about 5 yrs old. They haven't grown much and are struggling even in a semi-shaded area....but then they have been moved a couple of times trying to make them happy.

The only wholesaler I've dealt with near me over the years is Pittman out of Magnolia. I generally buy from Germania,Parks and Griffith but I'm not doing much large stock any more. Trying to stick w/ plants easily grown from seed for market and buying or trading for the fancy stuff for my own yard. Like I said,customers I deal w/ don't won't to pay much more than $6.00 for a herbaous perennial and it's really hard to sale the nicre,more unusual ones for $8.00. I quit doing hydrangeas in anything bigger than a full gallon because no one will pay the $18.00....but they'll go somewhere like Ellis Pottery and pay $18.00 for a hydragea in a 6-8" azalea pot. Folks around here treat their farmers market like a garage sale. Sorry,got on a soap box. Stepping down now...LOL

Belton, TX


Warrenton, VA

Can anyone tell me why every Summer Chocolate Mimosa that I've seen this summer for sale at different nurseries all have the same tall, leggy look, with the top chopped off and a kinda "Beetle Mop Top" look with branches coming from the same basic place way up high and going in all directions? Surely not a desirable look for the $ tag that is attached...yes, they were also all grafted.

Belton, TX

Strange, Gracye...that 'chopped' look must be something the growers are doing in your area...the ones I raise are small, but I have had a growing agreement for 7 years and never had a seedling that looks like that. While Summer Chocolate is a unique, non-invasive mimosa, it does exhibit the traditional characteristic of growing limbs and leaves all along the main trunk...very dark and graceful, almost pogoda shaped leaving at multiple levels...

Perhaps the grafting has something to do with...I don't grow the grafted ones because grafting in general is too sensitive for our Texas heat extremes and a beautiful plant too often experiences top-death during extreme cold or extreme hot...

I am sincerely sorry that you are getting a poor presentation of this great is pricey...but has been worth ever dollar in the majesty it brings to the garden...

Warrenton, VA

Thank you for your reply, txaggiegal, because my heart flipped when I first saw them, but on closer inspection (for purchase), my heart immediately sank. I was ready to part with the approximately $90.00, but could not rationalize it. They are gorgeous, and I surely am happy that you have some that are more natural - my gut told me to shy away from these exotic, contrived beauties.
I always opt for non-grafted if given the choice.

The ones for sale in my area look pretty much like Palm trees, shape-wise. Yep! That's the look!

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