Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Mimosa aculeaticarpa biuncifera, Catclaw Mimosa

Catclaw Mimosa  has white, whitish or pinkish globose fuzzy-looking flowers in clusters. Mimosa aculeaticarpa biuncifera Catclaw Mimosa blooms from May to August in the southwest United States. Fruits, which are a flattened and curved seed pod are developed soon after. Seed pods are constricted between seeds which are reddish brown. Mimosa aculeaticarpa biuncifera Catclaw Mimosa has small green deciduous leaves that are pinnately compound with 8 or more leaflets. The leaflets are linear to oblong. Note also the presence of the large insect gall. Insect galls are quite common on Catclaw Mimosa. Mimosa aculeaticarpa biuncifera Catclaw Mimosa have sharp prickles (they look like thorns) which are dangerous to anyone or any animal trying to foolishly penetrate the thicket, which the often grow in. These prickles are often found in pairs which is diagnostic to Catclaw Mimosa. Mimosa aculeaticarpa biuncifera Catclaw Mimosa are small trees or more appropriately thicket-forming shrubs. Stems are reddish and contain sharp prickles which are hazardous to humans. These thickets provide excellent cover for quail and other ground nesting birds. Mimosa aculeaticarpa biuncifera Catclaw Mimosa are small trees or more appropriately thicket-forming shrubs. Stems are reddish and contain sharp prickles which are hazardous to humans. These thickets provide excellent cover for quail and other ground nesting birds. Mimosa aculeaticarpa biuncifera

Scientific Name: Mimosa aculeaticarpa biuncifera
Common Name: Catclaw Mimosa

Also Called: Catclaw Mimosa, Cat Claw Mimosa, Paired-thorn Mimosa, Wait-a-Bit, Wait-a-Minute, Wait-a-Minute Bush, (Spanish: Gatuño, Gatuña, Uña de Gato, Garruño)

Family: Fabaceae or Leguminosae Family

Synonyms: (Mimosa biuncifera, Mimosa biuncifera var. biuncifera, Mimosa biuncifera var. glabrescens, Mimosa biuncifera var. lindheimeri, Mimosa lindheimeri, Mimosa warnockii, Mimosopsis biuncifera, Mimopsis flexuos)

Status: Native

Duration: Perennial

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.

Leaves: Catclaw Mimosa leaves are green; alternate, small, deciduous; twice compound with 8 or more (12) leaflets.

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.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Mimosa aculeaticarpa biuncifera.

North America species range map for Mimosa aculeaticarpa biuncifera:

Click image for full size map.

U.S. Weed Information: Unknown
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: Unknown
Wetland Indicator: Unknown
Threatened/Endangered Information: Unknown.

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.

The genus Mimosa was published in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus, (1707-1778)

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.

Also see in Southwest Desert Flora; Velvetpod Mimosa, Mimosa dysocarpa and Roemer's Mimosa, Mimosa roemeriana.

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.

Mimosa aculeaticarpa biuncifera is a host plant for the ‘Cecrops Eyed Silkmoth’, Automeris cecrops. Find out more from Butterflies and Moths of North America.

For additional information on native bees check out: Native bees do it better.; Arizona Sonora News, University of Arizona Journalism School Media.

U.S. Forest Service; Fire Effects Information System (FEIS)
See the U.S. Forest Service online collection of reviews of the scientific literature for management considerations of Catclaw Mimosa are found here.

The genus Mimosa is from Greek word “mimos” an “actor" or “mime” and the suffix “osa” which means “resembling” and together suggesting the plants ‘sensitive leaves’ seem to ‘mimic conscious life’.

The genus “Mimosa” was published in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus, (1707-1778).

The species epithet aculeaticarpa which means“prickly”.

The variety epithet biuncifera means “paired”; referencing the paired spines or prickles on the stems.


Date Profile Completed: 09/01/2015, updated 11/21/2021
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 11/20/2021)
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 11/20/2021).
World Flora Online; A Project of the World Flora Online Consortium; An Online Flora of All Known Plants - (accessed 11/23/2021)
IPNI (2020). International Plant Names Index. Published on the Internet, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Harvard University Herbaria & Libraries and Australian National Botanic Gardens. [Retrieved 20 November 2021].
Uchytil, Ronald J. 1990. Mimosa aculeaticarpa var. biuncifera. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [2021, November 20].
Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet [accessed: 11/20/2021]. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center at Uvalde: (accessed: 11/20/2021)
Wikipedia contributors, 'Mimosa aculeaticarpa', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 26 February 2021, 05:51 UTC,
<> [accessed 20 November 2021]
Wikipedia contributors, 'Mimosa', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 19 November 2021, 20:45 UTC,
<> [accessed 20 November 2021]
Vascular Plants of the Gila Wilderness; Western New Mexico University Department of Natural Sciences and the Dale A. Zimmerman Herbarium (accessed 11/20/2021).
Fletcher, Kaitlyn, 2018; El Inde; Stories from Southeastern Arizona, by students at the University of Arizona School of Journalism; accessed online 11/20/2021.
Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest.; Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p.
Etymology:Michael L. Charters California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology - (accessed 11/15/2021)
SEINet for synonyms, scientific names, recorded geographic locations and general information