Mimosa is a name applied to a wide range of lovely trees and shrubs, although not all of the plants belong to the same genus.
The genus Mimosa counts almost six hundred species. The most notable are Mimosa pudica and Mimosa tenuiflora.
The first one is commonly known as the touch-me-not plant, while the other gained popularity due to its shamanic use.
The latter produces a psychedelic substance, which shamans use to make the psychoactive ayahuasca drink.
Other popular plants carrying the mimosa name are the beautiful Persian silk tree, Albizia julibrissin, and wattle, Acacia dealbata.
Each of these specimens is unique and has great cultural significance and spiritual and symbolic meaning.
The wide range of different ’mimosa’ plants shares main characteristics.
Most have similar foliage, but the appearance of flowers varies from delicate pinkish flower heads to golden-yellow clusters.
Mimosa Flower Meaning and Symbolism
The name of the Mimosa genus derives from the Greek word mimos, meaning ’an actor’, ’a mime’.
The members of the genus have the distinctive ability. Their parts can rapidly move, that is, react to outer stimulation.
The ’sensitive plant’, Mimosa pudica, reacts to touch; it closes its leaves very quickly.
Other gentle relatives of this plant close the leaves during the daytime and open them at night. They possess an inner biological clock.
The symbolic meaning of mimosa plants and flowers comes from this unique ability.
The ’acting’ of the mimosa specimens led people to believe these plants possess consciousness, as we humans do. Mimosas are incredible actors.
Sensitivity and gentleness
Mimosa symbolizes sensitivity, tenderness, gentleness, and fragility.
The ability to react to outer factors makes it a perfect symbol of delicate feelings and being reactive. The mimosa plant represents emotional softness.
Mimosa pudica, known as the ’sensitive plant’, ’touch-me-not’, ’sleepy plant’, ’action plant’, and ’shame plant’ is the perfect representative of the genus and the one that carries the most significant symbolism.
This mimosa plant uniquely reacts to touch; it is quite a delicate species.
In addition, it closes the leaves overnight and opens when the light strikes. Scientists were fascinated with this plant; it was frequently studied and used in experiments.
The specific ability of rapid plant movement makes Mimosa pudica a symbol of general sensitivity and especially sensitivity to touch.
In addition, it is associated with memory. Scientists were eager to find out if the plant remebers its experience and uses its memory to adapt to the environment.
Mimosa represents gentleness and fragility. It symbolizes those who are highly reactive, whose emotions are deep and delicate. Some call it a humble or shy plant, which enriches its symbolism.
Shyness and humbleness
Due to the characteristic of rapid plant movement, that is, sensitivity to touch and immediate reaction, Mimosa pudica is also called the ’shame plant’ and ’humble plant’. The Latin name of this mimosa species literally translates as a ’shrinking’ or ’bashful’ mimosa.
The act of closing its leaves upon touch is associated with shyness but also shame.
The plant shrinks before one’s touch as if trying to defend itself from harm. Shy people often act the same. They feel insecure and avoid contact and conversation.
Lovely mimosa seemingly does the same thing.
However, this act of closing in can also be associated with humbleness and modesty.
Unlike bold, extravagant plants with striking flowers, mimosa does not want to catch the spotlight.
Insecurity and defensiveness
The reactive, touch-me-not mimosa symbolizes insecurity and a defensive attitude.
The plant acts as if it is being offended or afraid. It can be an allegory for shy, reserved, insecure individuals who do not let others in.
It represents the defensive attitude. Mimosa closes its leaves when touched just as defensive people tend to cross their arms or avoid direct contact. Mimosa shrinks as if it feels threatened or endangered.
This unique plant ability makes mimosa plants extremely interesting.
Several other plants share the rapid movement ability. These include Drosera species, the telegraph plant, the Venus flytrap, and the carnivorous Aldrovanda.
Some of these plants use this ability to attack, that is, to catch the prey.
Unlike carnivorous species, mimosas seem only to be too sensitive to outer stimulants.
For this reason, mimosa represents defensiveness, insecurity, fragility, and shyness.
Endurance and tolerance
It may sound surprising that mimosas also symbolize endurance, strength, and tolerance, keeping in mind all the aforementioned about sensitivity, fragility, vulnerability, and shyness.
However, mimosa plants are enduring.
Although their foliage may be sensitive to the touch, mimosa plants are quite tough. These shrubs and trees tolerate not as favorable environments and endure.
Therefore, the mimosa symbolizes both sensitivity and endurance.
People often make mistakes when trying to separate these traits, as if they were mutually exclusive.
In reality, that is often not the case. An emotional, sensitive person does not have to be of a weak character. On the contrary. Some of the strongest people are not those who seem like they do not feel anything, but those who are gifted with a great capacity for compassion.
They do not play being tough if hurt, frightened, or touched, but they endure all the difficulties in life.
Mimosa symbolizes this precious amalgam of sensitivity and toughness found in some of the greatest personalities.
Mimosa awakens the sense of humanness, in a symbolic sense. This lovely, humble plant reminds us to stay in touch with our emotions.
At the same time, it symbolizes the ability to overcome challenges, tough times, and difficulties, because being emotional, sensitive, and even vulnerable, does not exclude being persistent, strong, and capable.
Beauty and softness
Mimosa trees and shrubs are popular for their attractive appearance. People plant them for decorative purposes. The delicate Mimosa pudica is grown for its sophisticated sensitive foliage and its charming pink-purplish flowers are a blessing.
Persian silk tree, although not a true mimosa, easily catches the eye with its silky pink threads and attractive fronds – large, divided leaves. This beautiful tree and its summer blossom are a true delicacy for butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.
The yellow-blossomed Acacia dealbata, another ’false’ mimosa, known as ’silver wattle’ presents with lavish intensive yellow inflorescences, which makes it extremely popular as an ornamental plant. This plant in particular symbolizes femininity.
All mimosas are loved for their appearance, regardless of the genus. Their alluring foliage, the shape of the tree or shrub, and charming blossoms make them a wonderful addition to the environment.
Their elegant appearance awakens a sense of delicacy, beauty, gentleness, and softness.
Expansion and optimism
Mimosa trees and shrubs tend to grow and spread extremely quickly. They can take up a lot of space.
In a symbolic sense, mimosa flowers represent expansion and abundance. It can be related to any area of life.
For example, mimosa symbolizes the family expansion, the branching of the family.
In that sense, mimosa symbolizes the future, hope, love, mutual connection, creating bonds, and spreading the circle of people in your life.
Mimosa trees are sometimes seen as a symbol of protection and guardianship, as they usually cover a large space as if protecting it with their spread branches.
This characteristic adds to the rapid plant movement protective habit.
Mimosa Flower Cultural Significance
Considering that there are almost 600 mimosa species, along with ’mimosas’ not belonging to the same genre, the cultural significance of these plants is more than expected.
Some of the species have distinctive properties that make them stand out amongst many mimosa plants.
The scientific importance of touch-me-not mimosa
Mimosa pudica, the sensitive touch-me-not caught the attention of researchers early on.
In the 17th century, a German botanist tested plant habituation, using mimosa in his experiments. Three centuries later, scientists found that mimosa recognizes different stimuli.
This highly reactive mimosa was also used in electrical signaling experiments, as well as, anesthetics experiments.
Researchers also studied the habitual learning of plants experimenting with the sensitive Mimosa pudica.
The conclusion of the experiments showed that the mimosa is capable of memory storage and habitual learning.
The actual origin of mimosa’s capability of storing memory is not clear, given the fact that plants do not possess a central nervous system.
Ayahuasca and medicinal properties of Mimosa tenuiflora
Mimosa tenuiflora or Mimosa hostilis, called calumbi, jurema, jurema preta, black jurema, cabrera, carbonal, and tepezcohuite, depending on the regions of distribution, is widely known for its medicinal properties and entheogenic uses.
This mimosa tree or shrub inhabits Brazil, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia, Venezuela, and Panama.
It has fragrant spiky flowers and characteristic fine, pinnate foliage. Leaves and stems are used for making tooth pain-relieving tea.
A decoction of this plant is said to cure bronchitis and cough.
According to a preliminary study, this mimosa could be useful for the treatment of venous ulcerations on the legs. People in Central and South America use Mimosa tenuiflora to heal wounds.
Many cosmetic skincare products contain extracts of this plant. They are popular and promoted by celebrity figures.
However, what Mimosa tenuiflora is also known for is its role in shamanic practices that include the drinking of ayahuasca.
Mimosa tenuiflora contains psychoactive DMT. It is used by the Jurema Cult in northeast Brazil, for making a psychoactive jurema drink.
It is also a DMT admixture for traditional ayahuasca brew. Ayahuasca is a traditional shamanic and ceremonial brew in the basin of the Amazon.
It is made from specific plants with admixtures that add to the brew’s potency. The admixtures vary depending on the region.
One of them is Mimosa tenuiflora, which is separately used in the making of the psychoactive jurema drink.
Acacia dealbata and celebration of womanhood
Acacia dealbata is not a member of the genus Mimosa. Nevertheless, it is widely known as a mimosa.
This flowering plant is native to Australia and Tasmania, introduced and spread across the Mediterranean and other parts of the world.
This beautiful ’mimosa’ brings joy, happiness, and optimism.
It is an evergreen tree or shrub and is amongst the first-growing species after devastating fires. In the blooming season, the tree is adorned with beautiful yellow inflorescences.
The epithet dealbata, however, has nothing to do with the plant’s flowers, but with its bark.
The white lichen often covers almost the entire bark of this tree, giving it a silvery touch.
Therefore, Acacia dealbata is also known as ’silver’ or ’blue wattle’.
Yellow-flowered mimosa symbolizes respect, dignity, kindness, and sunshine.
In some countries, the flowers of this plant symbolize womanhood and femininity, being one of the most favorite symbols of International Women’s Day.
The European popularity of yellow mimosa started with cultivation in Italy.
The climate of the coastal European Mediterranean suits this beautiful tree.
The link between yellow mimosa flowers and International Women’s Day is an Italian custom of giving a mimosa bouquet to women.
Mimosa Flower Colors and Varieties
Although we have already talked about several popular mimosa species and their distant relatives from other genera, let us note a few more details.
Mimosas are characterized by pinnate and bipinnate leaves, which led to applying the name to several species with similar foliage.
Putting the genus question aside, mimosa flowers vary a bit. Mimosa pudica, our ’sensitive plant’, the most popular representative of the Mimosa genus has lovely pom-pom-like pale purple or pinkish flowers.
Mimosa tenuiflora presents with characteristic white-yellowish floral spikes with numerous little petals.
The extravagant Albizia julibrissin, the Persian silk tree, often called ’mimosa tree’ blooms with beautiful, lavish white-pink silky threads.
The favorite Mediterranean golden beauty, Acacia dealbata, presents numerous yellow flowers, which makes this ’mimosa’ extremely attractive and ornamental.
Mimosa Flower Growth and Care
The Mimosa genus features numerous species.
Besides them, similar plants are carrying the same name, even though they do not belong to the genus.
For the growing and caring guide, we will focus on the ’mimosa of mimosas’ – the touch-me-not plant.
Mimosa pudica grows and spread quickly, but does not live for long.
Although we know it as a ’sensitive’ plant, this mimosa is not demanding.
In fact, it is a low-maintenance tree or shrub, a nice touch to your garden.
This mimosa does not require any specific care plan.
Even if you are not an experienced gardener, you can enjoy its sophisticated looks and even more sophisticated sensitivity.
Mimosa pudica is an awesome ground covering.
However, beware of fast spreading. It can become invasive.
Typically, people grow this mimosa from seed, as an annual houseplant.
The mimosa usually starts declining after the blooming season.
Light and soil
The touch-me-not does not like shade. The sensitive plant prefers a sunny location and enjoys exposure to eight long hours of sunlight.
A place by a window that receives a lot of sunlight is perfect for a potted mimosa.
Sensitive plants enjoy loamy and well-drained soil. Make sure the soil has proper drainage and if not, add peat moss.
This mimosa is not a very hungry plant, in terms of soil fertilization. In nature, it usually lives in a low-nutrient soil environment.
Temperature, humidity and water
These plants thrive well in common indoor conditions. Mimosa requires a moderate to a humid environment.
You do not have to moisturize the air unless it is extremely dry. The best temperature range for mimosa is between 18 and 23 Celsius.
Propagation and repotting
The sensitive plant is most commonly propagated by seed.
However, cuttings are also an option.
When growing a sensitive plant in a pot, repotting is a must, for this plant quickly outgrows the pot.
The time to re-plant the mimosa is when you notice roots coming out from the drainage holes.
Do not get overly concerned if the plant starts shading leaves after the process.
Normally, it needs some time to return to its healthy state. After blooming, the plant can start declining.
If it happens, you should remove and discard the plant and use its seeds to re-grow it again. This is a common practice for growing sensitive plants.
Common pests and diseases
Sensitive plants are sensitive to several common pests. Besides spider mites, mimosa is often attacked by webworms.
Mealybugs, thrips, and similar pests could also bother your mimosa. Horticultural oil is the best cure.
Despite being ’sensitive’, sensitive plants do not suffer from any particular plant disease. They are quite healthy and tolerant.