As if right on cue to mark the official arrival of spring, Malta’s mimosa is out in flower. Patches of countryside and many roadside verges have been transformed in the past week or two by the golden domes of these shrubby acacias with their showers of droplet-like flowers. Spring in Malta may be short a season, but it packs more punch for it. And the mimosa, along with the lighter yellow English weed and other spring flowers, covers the islands in yellow.
A good place to see mimosa in abundance and photograph it is along the main road from Mosta to Burmarrad (St Paul’s Bay direction). Both sides have long rows of mimosa – with the best spectacle a little way across a field. The verges are wide enough there to stop your car and take a photo.
The mimosa was first described by the renowned Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus, in 1773 in Africa. Australia holds the record number of types of mimosa – some 950 out of 1,300. The mimosa has spread to almost any part of the world that offers a warm, temperate climate whether tropical or quite arid, as here in Malta. So while not a native, it’s very much at home, and a welcome alternative to the golden yellow of our ubiquitous stone. Set against spring green, it’s all the more majestic and colourful a shrub.
In some parts of the Mediterranean, mimosa is used as the base for perfumes, though for those prone to allergies or hay fever, it can be an unwelcome irritant. We don’t have it in such volume here in Malta though to harvest and it’s left to its own devices in waste land and fields. Its flowering will soon be over so enjoy it while you can.
Photo: Paul Downey