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mimosa sensitiva

Mimosa

[mi-moh-suh, -zuh]
Mimosa is a genus of about 400 species of herbs and shrubs, in the subfamily Mimosoideae of the legume family Fabaceae. There are two most curious plants in the genus. First the mimosa pudica because of the way it folds its leaves when touched or exposed to heat; many others also fold their leaves in the evening. It is native to southern Mexico, Uruguay and Central America but is widely cultivated elsewhere for its curiosity value, both as an indoor plant in temperate areas, and outdoors in the tropics. Outdoor cultivation has led to weedy invasion in some areas, notably Hawaii. Second, the mimosa hostilis which contains large levels of the powerful hallucinogen DMT in its roots.

Members of this genus are among the few plants capable of rapid movement; examples outside of Mimosa include the Telegraph plant, and the Venus Flytrap.

The genus Mimosa has had a tortuous history, having gone through periods of splitting and lumping, ultimately accumulating over 3,000 names, many of which have either been synonymized under other species or transferred to other genera. In part due to these changing circumscriptions, the name "Mimosa" has also been applied to several other related species with similar pinnate or bipinnate leaves but now classified in other genera, most commonly to Albizia julibrissin (Silk Tree) and Acacia dealbata (Silver Wattle).

In Russia, Italy and other countries it is customary to present women with yellow mimosas (among other flowers) on International Women's Day (March 8). This flower is from Acacia dealbata (Silver Wattle), which is not a true Mimosa.

La Forêt de Mimosas is a song performed in French by Kirsty MacColl about a woman who is murdered by her lover in a Mimosa forest.

The plant can be found in many parts of Bengal, where it is known as lajjabati (literally a shy female).

Species

There are about 400 species including:

References

  • Barneby, R.C. 1992. Sensitivae Censitae: A description of the genus Mimosa Linnaeus (Mimosaceae) in the New World. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden, vol. 65.

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