The variety of Mimosa trees belong to the Mimosoideae family of shrubs, which is in itself, part of the Fabaceae family of plants.The plants in Mimosoideae include flowering shrubs, herbs and vines, with some plants occasionally having thorns. As part of the Fabaceae family, also known as legumes, some of the plants in this group grow pods containing seeds much like peas.
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Mimosa borealis is known by several more common names, such as cat claw, fragrant or pink mimosa. it is a small shrub which can grow up to 3 feet in height and around the same in width. It produces pink, cotton, bud-like flowers during the spring and summer months, as well as small seed pods. Native to Mexico and southern areas of the U.S., it grows commonly at elevations between 1,200 and 4,600 feet. The plants are sometimes used for ornamental planting within gardens requiring a partially shaded area in which to grow.
Mimosa nuttallii is a briar type plant known commonly as sensitive, or catclaw briar. It has thin, woody stems which have curved prickles. From June through September, the plant sports colorful pink flowers. Its leaves are long, thin and separated and will curl up when touched. This leaf curling is one of the reasons mimosa plants get their name, meaning "mimic" in Greek; the leaves appear to copy animal-like movement. The briar is found commonly across the Great Plains area and into Alabama and can be found near roadsides in areas of loosened earth.
Mimosa diplotricha is a shrub-like vine with dense foliage and hooked thorns. Its leaves are segmented, and like Mimosa nuttallii, they will curl protectively if touched or disturbed in any way. Native to northern coastal areas of Queensland, Australia, they thrive in fertile soils found in humid tropical climates. When the plant flowers, it produces small pink flowers that resemble cotton balls and seed pods which are produced between autumn and mid winter.
Mimosa aculeaticarpa is a dense shrub which can grow up to 8 feet in height. The plant has segmented leaves that range in color between green and gray-green. The stems have curved thorns which are found at the base of each leaf. Flowering season is between spring and fall, dependent upon the area. The flowers produced are generally white to pink in color, and ball-shaped. Most commonly found in Mexico, the plant also ranges into areas of the southern U.S. such as Arizona, Texas and New Mexico.