Florida Forestry Information
Fabaceae
The Pea Family
 
The pea family is one of the largest of the flowering plants, with about 500 genera and over 15,000 species of plants with alternate, mostly compound leaves, and pod-like fruits.  Gums, tannins, oils, resins, numerous medicinal compounds, and dyes are obtained from many plants of this family.  The fragrance, attractive flowers, and delicate foliage of many plants of this family make them prized ornamentals.  Many of the plants of this family are used to increase the nitrogen content of the soil for agricultural and timber production purposes.  Many valuable timber species are also members of this family.  Despite the size and diversity of this family, a small number of arborescent forms of the plants of this family occur in Florida.  
 
 Click on the links below for introductions to some of the trees of this family:
 
eastern redbud
mimosa
 
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Cercis canadensis 
eastern redbud 
 
Habit 

The eastern redbud is usually a shrub or small tree, sometime reaching 40-60 feet in height and 1 foot in diameter.  Branching occurs 10 to 15 feet above the ground to form a narrow, erect or spreading, flattened or rounded crown. 
 
Leaves 

Leaves are simple, alternate, and deciduous.  The leaves are 3-5 inches wide and are kidney-shaped, with an abruptly-acute apex.  The leaf base is heart-shaped or flattened.  Leaf margins are entire.   The leaf surfaces are bright green above,  paler below and glabrous.  Leaf petioles are slender, about 2-5 inches long, and are prominently swollen at the point of attachment to the blade. 
 
Flowers 
 
The flowers are perfect and are in clusters of 4-8.  They are often found on the branches and trunks of young trees. 
 
Fruit 
 
Fruit is a small, linear-oblong legume, 2-3.5 inches long, on lateral clusters with the twig.  Seeds are ovate, compressed, and brown, 1/4 inch long. 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are slender, angled or zig-zagged, at first light brown, becoming gray-brown.  The pith is  homogeneous. 
 
Bark 

The bark is thin, brown, and smooth, becoming darker and furrrowed.  Later, large plates are formed which are broken into thin scales. 
 
Habitat 

The redbud grows on rich soils near streams or in fertile bottomlands in open woodlands.  It frequently forms thickets.  It is found from New Jersey to Minnesota; south to Florida in the east, to eastern Texas in the west. 
 
Use 

The eastern redbud is a valuable ornamental. 
 

Click on the links below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 
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Albizia julibrissin 
mimosa, silk-tree 
 
Habit 

The mimosa is a small deciduous, relatively short-lived tree with attractive feathery or lacy foliage and showy flower clusters.  It has a short trunk which branche into ascending limbs, forming a somewhat umbrella-like crown. 
 
Leaves 

Leaves are even-bipinnately compound, alternate, and deciduous.  The leaf blades are 3-10 inches long, about 3 inches wide, with 6-25 pinnules which bear a total of 200-1,200 leaflets.  Leaf petioles are slender, about 1-2 inches long, and are swollen at the base. 
 
Flowers 
 
The flowers are perfect, individually small, and are in large attractive, silky clusters.  They are often found on the uppermost leaves of the season's branches. 
 
Fruit 
 
Fruit is a thin, flat, linear-oblong, yellowish legume, 3 inches long.  Seeds are flattened, ovate, and brown, 1/4 inch long. 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are slender.  The pith is  homogeneous. 
 
Bark 

The bark is thin, brown, and smooth, becoming darker and furrrowed. 

Habitat 

This tree is native to Asia, but is cultivated as an ornamental in the deep south.  It commonly naturalizes on roadsides, fence and hedge rows, borders of upland woods, and clearings. 
 
Use 

The mimosa is a valuable ornamental. 
 

Click on the links below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 
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