genus of plant, containing c400 species

Mimosa is a genus of plants.[1] It has around 590 species of herbs and shrubs. It is classified in the subfamily Mimosoideae of the legume family Fabaceae. The word "mimosa" comes from the Greek word μιμος that means "mimic".[2]

Mimosa pudica
Scientific classification


About 400 species.

Mimosa hamanta in Hyderabad, India.
Mimosa before being touched.
Mimosa with folded-in leaves just after being touched.

The best known species of mimosa are Mimosa pudica and Mimosa tenuiflora. Mimosa pudica is found in Central and South America. When touched or heated, it folds its leaves. Mimosa tenuiflora is used by shamans (traditional magical) healer.

It is used in ayahuasca brews (a "magic" drink) because of the psychedelic drug N,N-Dimethyltryptamine DMT in its roots. In general, the production of such a chemical is a defence against herbivory.



The Mimosa genus has been split up into smaller groupings or lumped into larger ones. It has over 3,000 names to describe its species. Most of these names are now considered synonyms. Some of the names have been given to other species and genera.

The name "mimosa" has been used for other species that look like mimosa but are not related. Some of the most common unrelated plants called this name are the silk tree (Albizia julibrissin) and sattle (Acacia dealbata).



This genus includes some plants that are able to move fast. This is very rare. The mimosa's leaves close quickly when touched.

Mimosa is related to the genera Acacia and Albizia. The difference between them is that the mimosa's flowers have ten or fewer stamens. The big round flower of the mimosa is actually an inflorescence, a cluster (close group) of many small flowers.


  1. Not 'Silver Wattle' or 'Silk Tree', also sometimes known as "mimosa".
  2. Gledhill, D. (2008). The names of plants (4 ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 356. ISBN 9780521866453.
  • 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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