I was on a 6 week road trip to the west coast, and returned home just in time to find the mimosa trees blooming. I could smell the delicate floral aroma before I saw the small trees filled with flowers bursting from branches like tiny pink sparklers. Reminiscent of fireworks and cotton candy, this invasive plant is a perfect candidate for wildcrafting.
Side Note: Mimosa’s distinct appearance makes it an easy plant to identify, but the MOST IMPORTANT rule in wildcrafting is to have a positive ID before harvesting. If you are unsure, check with someone who is before you gather.
This tree of happiness, to use one of its Chinese common names, is on the North Carolina invasive plant list, which makes it very easy to find someone willing to let you harvest a couple of limbs for flowers and bark. We drove around for about an hour scouting before we found the perfect spot, well away from the road and vibrantly blooming.
It is best when harvesting a limb for bark to cut as close to the tree as possibly, and to make sure that the tree is healthy. Mimosa is a fast growing, weedy tree that recovers very quickly from cuttings.
Taste: Sweet, aromatic (Flower), aromatic, acrid (bark)
Effects: mood elevating, sedative
TCM Energetics: Sweet, warm
TCM Channels: Heart, liver
David Winston sums up it’s uses well in his book, Herbal Therapeutics:
“Mimosa Bark is known in TCM as He Huan Pi or collective happiness bark. It calms disturbed shen (anxiety, insomnia, bad dreams) and is an incredibly effective mood elevator. Mimosa is also used for irritability, depression, mood swings, poor memory, and excessive anger. I use it with Hawthorn flower/fruit and Rose petals for treating stagnant depression, broken heart, chronic grief and PTSD. In TCM Albizia is also used to treat trauma injuries (bruises, sprains) and back pain.”
We tincture the bark freshly dried at, and the fresh flowers at. The dosage is 3-20 drops one to three times a day.
Here at the Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine, we use the bark to make Felix Cordis, a heart opening and mood elevating cordial inspired by Avicenna’s exhilarates. Thomas says Felix Cordis is the only pleasant tasting formula he has ever made 😊
This blog post was written by Mel Kasting, with resources from Lindsey Feldpausch and David Winston