Size: Up to 3 to 8 feet (.91 - 2.43 m) and 4 to 6 feet (1.22 - 1.8 m) wide.
Growth Form:Shrub or small tree, straggly growth form; plants form dense thickets, the slender stems have single or paired backward pointing or curved strong spines; the spines may be harmful to human skin and clothing.
Flower Color: White or whitish or pinkish; fuzzy flowers in globose clusters; fruit is a flattened and curved seed pod which is constricted between each internal reddish brown seed; pods reach 1.5 inches (3.8 cm).
Flowering Season: May to August in Arizona; April to September in Texas.
Elevation: 3,000 to 6,000 feet (914 - 1,829 m); 2,000 to 5,000 feet (610 - 1,524 m) in Texas.
Habitat Preferences: Very common in chaparral communities, gravelly flats, dry soils on mesas, rocky slopes and hilltops; it also occurs in grasslands, pinyon-juniper, evergreen oak and pine-oak communities.
Recorded Range: Relatively rare in the United States but common where found, Catclaw Mimosa is found in AZ, NM and TX. In Arizona it occurs throughout most of the state with few or no records in the southwest corner; In New Mexico it is found primarily in the southern half and in Texas it is found scattered through the central and western parts of the state. It also occurs in Puerto Rico and throughout much of Mexico.
Genus Information: In North America, USDA Plants Database lists 28 species and 37 accepted taxa overall for Mimosa. Most of the species are native to North America. Worldwide, World Flora Online includes 949 accepted species for the genus.
In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 8 species of Mimosa, California has 3 species, Nevada and Utah each have 1 species, New Mexico has 10 species and Texas has 27 species. Data approximate, subject to revision.
There is 1 variety in Mimosa aculeaticarpa;
Mimosa aculeaticarpa biuncifera, (AZ, NM, TX).
Comments: Catclaw Mimosa, also commonly called Wait-a-minute Bush, is a dominant mid- to upper-elevation Sonoran Desert species where it is scattered about with several other co-dominant shrubs such as Acacia, Prosopis and Juniperus. Catclaw Mimosa is one of the common species in the lower to higher desert scrub communities.
This species has a tendency to form thickets and thus provide excellent cover for small mammals and birds. The seed pods are eaten by desert livestock and by quail. According to Arizona Flora, Catclaw Mimosa "is reputed to be a good honey plant." Thus making it a good source for native bees and Honeybees.
For a comprehensive review of Catclaw Mimosa, Mimosa aculeaticarpa biuncifera see the USDA USFS Fire Effects Information System, or FEIS.
Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
Catclaw Mimosa, Mimosa aculeaticarpa biuncifera is marginal for deer and pronghorn unless there is no other forage available. As they form dense thickets, the plants are rarely used by livestock and then only during times of drought when other forage is not available. However the seed pods are highly palatable to both deer and livestock. In addition, ground feeding birds including Scaled Quail and Gambel's Quail will eat the seeds. In addition, Catclaw Mimosa has attractive flowers and the flowers, seeds and entire plants may be visited by hummingbirds and/or small mammals, including rodents and other granivorous birds in search of food, nectar and protection through cover. It is known that the dense thickets provide high cover value to small rodents and quail and other ground birds.
Beneficial Value to Butterflies, Honey Bees and Insects
Mimosa aculeaticarpa biuncifera has attractive flowers that are known to be an important honey source and the flowers and plants, which form thickets, may be visited or used by butterflies, moths, flies, honeybees, native bees and other insects in search of nectar, food or shelter and protection.