The Mimosa Genus

The Mimosa genus is made up of roughly 420 different shrubs and herbs, as part of the Fabaceae plant family, or the pea plant family.

Mimosa At A Glance

The plants within the genus hail from tropical and subtropical parts of the world, and produce delicate, fern-like foliage, and feathery, globular flower heads, which are fragrant. 

It’s worth noting that the genus name is interchangeable with other plant species, specifically those belonging to the Acacia or Albizia genera.

Plants under these genera are often referred to as mimosa, which is inaccurate.

Mimosa pudica is probably the most famous plant in the genus, known for its leaves which will curl away from you if you touch it.

It can be grown as an annual or a brief perennial, featuring spiny leaves, purple flowers, and some medicinal properties.

While it hails from South America, it’s grown all over the world, and has become invasive in some places.

Mimosa Name Origin

The name of the genus stems from Greek mimos and the suffix osa, roughly translating to actor or mine resembling life, which refers to the curious quirks that plants in this genus possess.

If you touch a mimosa leaf, you’ll notice pretty much instantly that the leaves curl away from the contact, and they also do this in response to heat, too.

This has given the plant its common names touch-me-not, the shame plant, and the humble plant.

Interestingly, if a drop of water strikes the leaves, the plant will not behave in the same way as if you touch it.

It’s also been the cause of a lot of research. In particular, electrical signals also cause the plant to close (see also Why Flowers Close At Night).

Mimosa Symbolism

Mimosa plants represent sensitivity, empathy, tenderness, vulnerability, and sensibility.

To some, these plants signify the need to reach out from your comfort zone and to everything waiting beyond.

Mimosa Uses

Quite a few species within the mimosa genus have medical applications. 

Mimosa plants are used as herbal remedies to help treat wounds, burns, fractures, abscesses, boils, skin ulcers, and hemorrhoids, thanks to its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. 

They also have some applications in treating parasitic worms, as well as an antidote to some types of snake venom.

In gardens, mimosa adds a lot of novelty and ornamental value, as well as having nitrogen fixing properties.

Mimosa Growing Requirements

Mimosa plants are hardy in USDA zones 9 through to 13, and will produce feathery flower heads in summer, in shades of white, purple, or pink.

Some mimosa plants can get as large as 20 feet tall, while others may reach less than a foot tall, depending on the variety.

The plants within the mimosa genus thrive in damp, loamy compost which has a good amount of drainage, with a pH between 5.0 and 7.0.

Mimosa plants can survive in dappled shade, but most will do best in a sunny, sheltered position.

While they only need an average amount of water, these plants are not the type that you can leave to their own devices all the time, and will need some attention from you.

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