Published on Aug 12, 2020

Mimosa Background Images

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Mimosa is a genus of about 400 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, 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.

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.

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