For months now, I've been coming across this tree with unusual pink flowers, but for one reason or another, I haven't been able to grab a photo of it. That changed last night while running along the Custis Trail. I finally got a few basic photos:
Don't those blossoms look like they belong in a tropical paradise, or at the very least, in a botanical garden? What the heck is this tree doing randomly along Custis Trail, and more importantly, what's it called?
Not quite sure the technical term to describe the flowers, I just took my best guess and entered the following into Google Images: Tree Wispy Pink Flowers. The first hit was a perfect match:
I've said it before, but I'll say it again: Google Images is an amazing tool for plant identification.
According to that first hit I was looking at a Memosa Tree (aka Silk Tree, aka Albizia julibrissin). Apparently the trees are both exotic looking and tough as nails, as they will grow pretty much anywhere (including along a random bike trail). It's not all good news, though, as they are considered an invasive species in Virginia, and all those blossoms leave quite a mess, which make them less than ideal for urban design.
There's various back and forth as to what parts of the tree are edible. There doesn't appear to be a common part of the tree people consume, yet in the comments here, people claim that eat just about all of it. It has a tradition of being used for medical purposes, including making tea from the leaves and using the bark as a "mood enhancer". Though, the exact details are all a little sketchy.
Bottom line: looks like this is one of those trees to marvel at, but avoid planting or nibbling on.