Mimosa is a genus of about 420 species of herbs and shrubs, in the mimosoid clade of the legume family Fabaceae. The generic name is derived from the Greek word μῖμος (mimos), an “actor” or “mime”, and the feminine suffix -osa, “resembling”, suggesting its ‘sensitive leaves’ which seem to ‘mimic conscious life’.
Two species in the genus are especially notable. One is Mimosa pudica, commonly known as touch-me-not, which folds its leaves when touched or exposed to heat. It is native to southern Central and South America but is widely cultivated elsewhere for its curiosity value, both as a houseplant in temperate areas, and outdoors in the tropics. Outdoor cultivation has led to weedy invasion in some areas, notably Hawaii. The other is Mimosa tenuiflora, which is best known for its use in shamanic ayahuasca brews due to the psychedelic drug dimethyltryptamine found in its root bark.
- Name – Acacia dealbata
- Family – Mimosaceae
- Type – tree
- Height – 13 to 32 feet (4 to 10 meters)
- Exposure – full sun
- Soil – well drained and sandy
- Foliage – evergreen
- Flowering – January to March
Members of this genus are among the few plants capable of rapid movement; examples outside of Mimosa include the telegraph plant, Aldrovanda, some species of Drosera and the Venus flytrap. The leaves of the Mimosa pudica close quickly when touched. Some mimosas raise their leaves in the day and lower them at night, and experiments done by Jean-Jacques d’Ortous de Mairan on mimosas in 1729 provided the first evidence of biological clocks.
Mimosa can be distinguished from the large related genera, Acacia and Albizia, since its flowers have ten or fewer stamens. Botanically, what appears to be a single globular flower is actually a cluster of many individual ones. Mimosa contains some level of heptanoic acid.
How to Use Mimosa Trees in Your Landscape
The lacy, graceful Mimosa is quite versatile. Mimosas work well in less formal situations and in groups out away from pools and patios, where they can be allowed to take on their natural form. Site this tree wisely in the right setting, and you’ll absolutely love it.
Use this tree to create a gorgeous garden wall or backdrop at the back edge of your lot. As a legume, it will fix nitrogen in your soil. As an added bonus, the beautiful flowers produce a sweet nectar that attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and pollinators to your yard.
The dappled shade value of the Mimosa can not be understated. It features a wide-spreading canopy, that is liberally adorned with flowers that appear to float on top of the leaves for most of the season.
The Mimosa is a wonderful, drought tolerant shade tree for the center of a lawn or to block the hot afternoon sun coming into a south or southwest-facing window.
Planting a Winter Mimosa Tree
Mimosa is planted preferably in spring or in fall in a sunny spot and, ideally, sheltered from wind.
If you choose to grow your mimosa tree in a pot for a deck, balcony or terrace, its fragrance will spread in the entire vicinity as soon as the first flowers unfurl.
Indeed, mimosa tree particularly loves sun-endowed emplacements that are protected from drafts, and especially well-drained soil.
- You’ll do well in avoiding heavy clay soil.
- For chalky soil, select a flowering mimosa tree that is grafted with a local native root stock. It will be better suited to that particular soil type.
- Follow our tips on how to plant a mimosa tree.
- Propagate your mimosa tree through cuttings in summer (highest success rate, but spring is also fine).
- Gather seeds from a tree, they germinate readily.
- You can even grow a new mimosa tree from bark.
In regions with harsh winters, your best option is to plant your mimosa tree in large pots so that you may bring them indoors over winter.