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The albrizia julibrissin is a tree (or shrub) belonging to the Leguminosae family. It is very common in the gardens of our country where it arrived, towards the middle of the 1700s, from Constantinople (hence its nickname acacia of Constantinople or Persia). Its scientific name instead is linked to the person who imported it for the first time in the Old Continent, where it spread very quickly.
Medium-sized tree, native to Asia, widespread in Italy since 1700; many other species of albizia are also present in Africa and Australia. The stem is erect, with smooth bark, of dark green color, it tends to crack with the passing of the years; adult trees reach 10-12 meters in height, developing a wide umbrella-like crown. the foliage is very delicate and light, consisting of bipinnate leaves, made up of small oval leaflets, bright green, deciduous. In summer it produces, from June to July, until the end of August, numerous fragrant flowers, consisting of pink-colored flower heads, united in corymbs. In autumn the flowers are followed by fruits, elongated siliques, which dry on the tree, containing some fertile seeds. Very widespread plant in central-northern Italy, also as street trees.
Albizia of Constantinople
These are trees or large bushes that can reach a maximum height of 12 meters, although they usually do not exceed 6 meters. The foliage occupies about 5 meters in width. Their area of origin is all of south-western Asia, in particular the wooded areas near water courses.
The crown has an expanded shape. The leaves, deciduous and bipinnate, are up to 50 cm long with numerous leaflets, tapered at the apex, not toothed, about 1 cm long, dark green and smooth on both pages. The bark is dark brown and smooth. The individual flowers, small, are very showy thanks to the long pink stamens, carried in dense and vaporous clusters that open from the end of summer to the beginning of autumn. The fruits are pod-shaped and can reach up to 15 cm in length.
Being a subtropical tree it cannot be considered totally rustic. Generally it can withstand even up to -15 ° C, but for short periods. However, there are more sensitive cultivars than others that can start to suffer even at -5 ° C.
Instead, it is a very suitable tree for drought areas and saline soils, even near the coasts.
It grows rather slowly, so it will be necessary to wait at least 5 years for it to reach considerable dimensions.
|Family and gender|
Leguminosae, gen albizia, julibrissin species
|Type of plant||Tree or shrub up to 12 meters, generally 6|
|Rustic||Medium rustic, with significant variations depending on the cultivar|
|Ground||Well drained, rich, but not heavy or clayey|
|colors||Flowers pink, red, white, fuchsia|
|Irrigation||Very light, practically autonomous. Suitable for dry areas|
|Flowering||From summer to autumn|
|Pests and diseases||Psylla, cochineals, root and collar rots|
|fertilization||Organic soil conditioner in the fall, a few handfuls of slow-release granular in the spring|
The specimens of Acacia of Constantinople prefer the sunny, or even semi-shaded, positions. Generally they do not fear the cold, but particularly cold winters can damage the youngest branches, for this reason it is advisable to plant these trees in an area protected from the winter wind. They do not fear pollution and discreetly withstand saltiness.
It is advisable to water the young plants of acacia of Constantinople planted in spring, avoiding leaving the ground dry for prolonged periods of time; the plants that are now stabilized are generally satisfied with the rains, except in cases of particularly dry climate, in which case it is advisable to intervene in the soil at least every 10-15 days. Towards the end of winter, bury organic fertilizer at the foot of the stem, placing it well on the ground.
They develop without problems in any type of soil, avoiding particularly acidic or heavy soils.
The multiplication of the acacia of Constantinople takes place by seed, in spring, or even by cutting in the summer. Seed germination is very easy, in fact these trees tend to self-seed.
Pests and diseases
For some years in northern Italy the plants of albizia have been attacked by a very aggresive parasite, which is decimating them, it is a particular species of psylla, to avoid the death of the plants it is good to treat the trees attacked by this parasite. as soon as the first specimens are noticed.
Persia acacia is an undemanding and very easy to grow tree. Its light foliage is very elegant for most of the year. Its flowers resemble soft and colorful pompoms.
The ideal is to use it as an isolated specimen so that its beauty is maximized and you can also enjoy its shadow.
Planting, climate and exposure
Albizia is not a tree suitable for growing in containers. In fact, it manages to develop well only in the open ground, where its roots can reach the deepest layers of the soil.
Generally speaking, it should not have problems throughout our peninsula, except for mountain areas. The ideal, however, are the coastal areas and the whole Center and the South of the country.
In our garden we always choose the sunniest possible location and avoid exposing it to strong winds (particularly cold ones) or, possibly, we prepare barriers made up of special structures or hedges of plants suitable for the purpose.
When and how to proceed?
Albizia can be found for sale as a bare root, in a vase or even just with a small patch of earth. In any case the planting that gives faster results and minimizes the impact on the plant is that carried out in the first half of winter, in the absence of frosts. If we live in areas characterized by periods of intense cold, it will be good to procrastinate until the end of March.
First of all, dig a hole that is at least 60 cm wide and deep, choosing a location where there are at least 5 meters free in each direction. If the soil is poor, it will be good to mix it with a good dose of organic soil before reinserting it.
Once the roots are inserted or the earth bread will cover the hole and will compress well with the feet, then lightly irrigating.
If the soil is too heavy, it will be essential first of all to create a thick draining layer with gravel or other suitable material at the bottom of the hole. The substrate will instead be lightened by incorporating coarse sand and well-decomposed organic material.
As we have said, albizia does not particularly like pot cultivation. If we want to try, however, let us remember that it needs ample space for roots and regular irrigation.
In full earth, on the other hand, everything will be much simpler. In fact they rarely require human intervention in the water aspect. We intervene only if we see a strong yellowing of the leaves at a particularly hot and dry summer.
If the specimen we have chosen has been bred as a sapling, at least two very sturdy stakes that have been planted deep into the ground must be provided during insertion into the ground.
You will have to work on the lower part of the trunk: keep it unique by eliminating any regrowth resulting from the roots. It will be a job to be carried out assiduously because the natural form always tends to be rather bushy.
It will also be necessary to keep the trunk clean up to at least one meter in height.
The sapling specimens are also more sensitive to cold, especially when still young.
This is why it will be good to prepare, before the winter, a good mulching layer in the root area (composed of manure, straw, leaves, pine bark). Furthermore, the trunk will be covered with a double layer of non-woven fabric.
These precautions must be maintained at least for the first two years after planting.
Where summers are particularly hot it can also happen that the sun burns the young leaf tips. At least the first year it is advisable to cover the foliage with a slightly shading cloth.
The best time to intervene is between the end of winter and the beginning of spring.
We can distinguish three types of pruning
- For the formation of a tree
We choose the most robust and straight jet at our disposal. Eventually we can use a guardian to make it more consistent with our expectations.
We eliminate at the base all the other jets and also those that start from the lower part of the chosen one.
When the height reached will be the one we wish we cut the top and let it create side branches in the upper part of the crown.
we eliminate all jets that go vertical looking instead to create an inverted cone open in the center. We also suppress the branches that cross, creating an untidy shape.
Proceeding in this way for a couple of years, the plant will take the shape we want.
- To contain the dimensions or rejuvenate
If we have to intervene to significantly reduce the size of the tree, we schedule the work over two or three years, cut a few branches at a time so as not to stress it too much. Generally in these cases it is good to intervene from mid-summer onwards so as to be in a period of descending lymph and consequently not to lose excessively.
Albizia is multiplied very easily by seed (in fact in some areas, as in the United States, it has become invasive), although to have a beautiful plant you have to wait several years.
The cutting is more complicated and in fact in order to multiply the cultivars, grafting is often used.
The seeds must be harvested at the end of autumn when the pod is dry. Store them in a dry and cool place, preferably dark. In spring let's place them in the ground keeping the temperature at about 20-25 degrees. In a short time the seedling will be born which will then be trimmed several times to strengthen it.
The best way is to wear the shield during the summer. the rootstock must be young with a light brown bark.
Before proceeding you will have to irrigate the subject abundantly for three days so that the rind becomes more tender. We take an eye and keep it in the wet paper towel inside the refrigerator so that it does not become dehydrated. Let's put it in the buttonhole, shake it with raffia and avoid exposing it to direct light.
The cutting is carried out with jets that have passed the month of August. However, it requires very constant temperature and humidity and is therefore difficult to achieve at home.
Acacia of Constantinople - Albizia julibrissin: Pests and diseases
Unfortunately, albizia is attacked by many insects, in particular the psyllid and the cochineal. This leads to the frequent and rapid appearance of smoke.
The parts affected by the psylla should be cut as soon as possible.
On the other hand, cochineal can be contrasted by distributing white oil activated by a systemic insecticide during the winter.
In the case of root or collar rot, the only remedy is to change the soil so that there is better water drainage.
The genus Albizia has about 150 species, but only the julibrissin is cultivated in the gardens. There are several cultivars that are mainly distinguished by the color of the flowers.
Cyrano with bright red flowers, from June to September. Withstands up to -10 ° C
Summer chocolate light pink flowers, up to -12 ° C
Sunrise pure white flowers, even up to -15
Pendula decombi flowers, fucisa or red, up to -13 °
Rosea the most widespread, cyclamen-colored, very rustic, even up to -22 ° C
Ombrella crimson-colored fragrant flowers, from June to September. Weeping habit. Up to -17 ° C
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