Acacia deabalta. Mad on mimosa.

IMG_6392If like me you love mimosa then the place to be in February is the South of France on  the 130-kilometre, Route du Mimosa which stretches from Bormes-les-Mimosas to Grasse.

The best part of this mimosa road is behind the town of Mandelieu-La-Napoule where you can walk on  one of the lovely footpaths in the Massif du Tanneron which has the biggest mimosa forest in Europe.


It is amazing to look at this vast mimosa forest and think that until the mid nineteenth century mimosa was unknown here. It was introduced from Australia after Lord Brougham had led the way and made Cannes the new ‘in’ place for people with money to live.  Opulent mansions were built and gardens were made using the newest plant introductions from  Australia and other exotic places. The mimosa was so well suited to the climate and the soil in this part of France that it soon jumped over the garden wall and established itself with an astonishing rapidity.

Ecologists today are  rather worried that the native flora on the Massif du Tanneron has been almost entirely taken over by the prolific mimosa. The local people have no such worries; they love it. A whole industry has built up round the mimosa. There are now many ‘mimoistes’ who grow it in their nurseries. Perfumeries at Grasse use the flower for its scent. The little train station at Mandelieu-La Napoule was for many years used to send mimosa to florists all round the country.  Today over 8 million mimosa bouquets are exported from France to countries all  around the world every year. Much of this comes from the Tanneron region.

By the early twentieth century it had became an important part of the local economy. In February 1929 there was a disaster when temperatures of -9 degrees killed the harvest. It took two years for the trees to recover.  To celebrate the new harvest, mimosa festivals started to be held every year in February . The celebrations go on for 10 days starting with the election of la Reine du mimosa. (The Queen of the mimosa.) On the Sunday there is the Grand procession : Le Grand Corso fleuri. Each year there is a  different theme. This year’s is : The Mimosa celebrates the Riviera. The grand parade consists of floral floats decorated with mimosa from which mimosa is thrown at the crowd

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IMG_6232 The parade has oompah bands and all sorts of entertainers. It’s all very jolly.

Twelve tons of mimosa are used to decorate the floats and throw at the spectators. Everybody tries to grab as much as they can and when the parade has finished people crowd round the floats and rip the mimosa off them.

I  thought about showing this photo for last week’s In A Vase On Monday. But it would have been cheating  as I didn’t grow it, I had it thrown at me and that doesn’t count.

There are over a thousand species of Acacia and most of them are not frost hardy. They are very easy from seed and great for the conservatory. I found the most frost- hardy to be Acacia pravissima which has unusual shaped leaves. Mine got to be quite large in a sheltered position. Eventually though it succumbed to a really cold winter.

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29 Responses to Acacia deabalta. Mad on mimosa.

  1. What a beautiful place. Great photo’s. 🙂 With the plant being prolific – is it a threat to any of the native plants?

    • Chloris says:

      It is beautiful but the native flora does not stand much of a chance on the Massif de Tanneron. Mimosa is an important part of the local economy so I don’t suppose anything will be done about it. Everybody loves it; the footpaths through the forest are full of people at this time of the year and everyone is carrying armfuls of it.

  2. Pauline says:

    How wonderful to see Mimosa en masse like that, the perfume must have been amazing. The parade looks to be great fun for all the family, I would love to have some thrown at me, so that I could perfume the house with it!

    • Chloris says:

      It does have a wonderful perfume. Restaurants are full of mimosa cocktails and desserts are decorated with it. People seem to want to east it as well as sniff it and look at it. I had no idea that it was edible.

  3. croftgarden says:

    Looks more fun than a wet and windy Saturday afternoon in the Hebrides.
    I love Mimosa, such a pity it is endangering the native flora.

    • Chloris says:

      It was a lovely day last Sunday when the Grand Procession took place. It was lucky because it poured with rain the day before. The mimosa is gorgeous and the smell is wonderful.It is a pity that the native flora doesn’t stand a chance though.

  4. Alison says:

    So interesting to see them celebrating an invasive species like this! But I guess it’s no different than the Rhodie festivals they have here, which are mostly imports from the Far East. Although we do have a couple of native Rhodies. Also interesting that what they call Mimosa is so different from what we in the U.S. call Mimosa, which is Albizia julibrissin, with pink flowers.

  5. Chloris says:

    Well I suppose they celebrate it because it has become so important to the local economy. Clearly everyone loves it too and who can blame them? It lights up the whole coast at this time of the year.
    I love Albizia, I grew it for a while until it got killed by severe frosts. What do you call Acacia? Is it called Wattle?

  6. Annette says:

    What a colourful and informative (as usual!) post, Chloris. Mimosa certainly are a welcome sight, especially at this time of year. We often go to Roquebrun in the Languedoc, where they have a lovely Mediterranean garden and every year in February the Fête de la mimosa, which looks very similar to the pictures here. Got myself a mimosa last spring but it doesn’t seem very happy.

  7. Chloris says:

    Thank you Annette. Have you tried growing mimosa from seed? It’s very easy and quick growing. If yours isn’t happy you could try a different variety.

  8. mrsdaffodil says:

    Your photographs bring cheer to my morning. I had planned to plant out some snowdrops a friend dropped off yesterday, but I woke to grey skies and snow.

  9. Chloris says:

    Oh no, not more snow. I am sorry. I wish I could send you some mimosa; it is like little balls of sunshine.

  10. Flighty says:

    A most enjoyable post, and terrific pictures, it must be an amazing sight to see it like that. xx

  11. Chloris says:

    Thank you Flighty. Walking in the mimosa forest is amazing and the scent is gorgeous.

  12. Cathy says:

    It must feel quite surreal, to be in a forest of mimosa – but even seeing it must too. I am afraid I have no idea what it smells like – would it be overpowering where there is such a lot of it? I think we could have forgiven you for mimosa-in-a-vase Chloris, as it was a ‘found’ thing…. so what will it be next Monday…?

  13. Chloris says:

    It is surreal walking through the forest, it’s like walking through golden sunshine.
    The fragrance is not at all overbearing. I wish I could describe it. It is lovely.
    A vase next Monday? Goodness knows.

  14. bittster says:

    Your post and the comments make me want to visit a mimosa forest in spring! I never knew they grew so well or had such a nice perfume. Very interesting post, and it looks to be the perfect place to visit right now.

  15. Kris P says:

    You momentarily had me alarmed with the description of mimosa forests. For me, mimosa means Albizia julibrissin. I inherited one with our current house and, while it’s a pretty thing in flower, I’m convinced that it’s trying to achieve world domination. I’ve never seen anything that seeds so prolifically! I enjoy the tree for a couple of weeks each year, then spend the other 50 weeks pulling up seedlings and sweeping up the mess it drops. Acacias here are generally more civilized plants.

    • Chloris says:

      I used to have an Albizzia although it never seeded around and it succumbed to a cold winter. Obviously the Acacia is very well suited to the climate and soil here, every tree has a skirt of seedlings growing round it. Nothing else stands a chance.

  16. Julie says:

    Great photos Chloris and very informative text, my goodness, this is an extraordinary spectacle. Is the economy there based just on perfume and floristry, it seems incredible that it can support so many. I had not realised this species was such a prolific self seeder.

    • Chloris says:

      I think the mimosa is quite important for the local economy although there are not as many mimoistes as there used to be. But everyone here just !oves the mimosa.

  17. Anna says:

    Oh what glorious instant sunshine Chloris which has cheered me up on a dull, drizzly day. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about how it was introduced to France and its subsequent cultivation. I think that I would much rather have some fluffy soft mimosa thrown at me than many other plants I can think of.

  18. Chloris says:

    Yes it is lovely having fluffy mimosa thrown at you. Unfortunately it makes the Pianist sneeze.

  19. Christina says:

    The mimosa thatgrows here tends to be a rather sickly yellow and the scent isn’t all that pleasant but the yellow in your photgraphs is good. The festival looks great fun, a cross between carnival and a flower festival.

  20. Chloris says:

    It is a carnival really but with lots of mimosa everywhere. There are over 1000 species of Acacia, the ones here are mostly different kinds of Acacia deabalta. Some of them are pale lemon but most of them are deep yellow and full of flowers.

  21. What a spectacle! And all for one plant! It must be a wonderful sight to behold, especially in the sunshine against a backdrop of blue skies! And the smell must be incredible! I could liken it to Scotland’s heather hills but that misses out on the perfume, and the, more likely, gray skies tend to impart a more subtle, misty effect – a different kind of beauty! Your photos are brilliant and really capture it all so well. It must have been an exciting experience!

  22. What a fun time you are having! You know, I have never seen or smelled a mimosa plant in person.

  23. Shirley says:

    The hills look amazing in your photos with all those golden blooms and the festival looks fun too. We have a native acacia in Texas with the same blooms. It’s called Huisache and when it blooms in the next few weeks I will try some in a vase. The trees are more often seen as single specimens or small groups so I had no idea they would cover the hills in such a fascinating way.

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