Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Mimosa dysocarpa, Velvetpod Mimosa

Velvetpod Mimosa has large showy pink, pink-purplish to magenta flowers. The flowers are up to 2 inches (50 mm) long. The flowers fade to whitish or pinkish after maturity. Flowers have a slight fragrance. Fruits are a Legume pod often constricted between seeds. Mimosa dysocarpa Velvetpod Mimosa flowers are on a short cylindrical plume inforescence. The showy flowers, up to 2 (50 mm) inches long, range from pink to magenta. As shown in the photo the flowers fade from pinkish or purple to white. Mimosa dysocarpa Velvetpod Mimosa flowers, up to 20 or more in dense heads with exerted stamen. Individual heads are in synchronous bloom. Flowers bloom from May to September with fruiting soon thereafter. Mimosa dysocarpa Velvetpod Mimosa is a shrub with multiple short dense branches and stems. The stems have many spines in groups of 3 or 4. The leaves “close” when touched like "Sensitive Briar, M. roemeriana", leaves linear-lanceolate. Mimosa dysocarpa Velvetpod Mimosa are common along brushy slopes, arroyos, washes and roads as shown in the photo.  It is a rare species in the United States, Mimosa dysocarpa is native to Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Mimosa dysocarpa

Scientific Name: Mimosa dysocarpa
Common Name: Velvetpod Mimosa

Also Called: Velvet-Pod Mimosa, Spanish: Gatuño, Gato

Family: Fabaceae or Leguminosae Family

Synonyms: (Mimosa dysocarpa var. wrightii)

Status: Native

Duration: Perennial

Size: Usually 3 or 4 feet (.91 - 1.22 m) tall more (6 feet 1.8 m).

Growth Form: Velvetpod Mimosa is a Shrub with multiple short dense branches and stems, the stems have many spines arranged in groups of 3, the stems mature straw-colored to gray and becoming 3-sided or striated.

Leaves: Velvetpod Mimosa has green deciduous leaves; arranged alternately along the stem; the leaves are hairy (pubescent); the leaves are bipinnately compound with 16 to 20 leaflets; these leaves “close” when touched similar to “Sensitive Briar, Mimosa roemeriana”, leaves are linear-lanceolate.

Flower Color: Flowers are pink, pinkish-purple to magenta; very showy up to 2 inches (51 mm) long, flowers fade as they mature to pinkish or white and the flowers have a light fragrance; the flowering stalk (inflorescence) is a short cylindrical plume in 20 or more dense heads with extended (exerted) stamen, the extended stamen are part of the attractiveness of the flower which all bloom in unison (syncronis); the fruit is a pod with thick walls, strongly coiled and often constricted between seeds. The flowers have a slight aroma.

Flowering Season: May to September in Arizona; June through September in Texas.

Elevation: 3,500 to 6,500 feet (1067 - 1981 m).

Habitat Preferences: Velvetpod Mimosa is common along brushy slopes, arroyos and washes.

Recorded Range: A rare species in the United States, although it is common where found; Mimosa dysocarpa is native to Arizona, New Mexico and Texas and northern Mexico. In Arizona it occurs in the southern counties of Pima, Santa Cruz and Cochise; in New Mexico in the extreme southwestern part of the state and also in Socorro County; and in Texas it is found east of the Rio Grande River in the counties of Jeff Davis, Presidio and Brewster.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Mimosa dysocarpa.

North America species range map for Mimosa dysocarpa:

North America species range map for Mimosa dysocarpa:
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.

Comments: Without a doubt Velvetpod Mimosa is one of the most beautiful flowering plants in the southwest with its showy spikes of purplish and pink flowers. Velvetpod Mimosa is a shrub that is very similar to Catclaw Mimosa, Mimosa aculeaticarpa as both species are armed with sharp prickles although Velvetpod Mimosa has larger and more showy elongated flowers.

According Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center the plants "are extremely drought tolerant and regular pruning encourages growth of more branches and flowers".

Also see in Southwest Desert Flora; Catclaw Mimosa, Mimosa aculeaticarpa biuncifera and Roemer's Mimosa, Mimosa roemeriana.

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 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.

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 dysocarpa may be from the two Greek words “dys”, meaning “bad or with difficulty”, and “karpos” meaning “fruit”; together, likely a reference to its' fruit which has 4 sharp prickles.


Date Profile Completed: 09/01/2015, updated 11/22/2021
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
Kearney and Peebles 1969, on-line, SEINet, (accessed 11/21/2021)
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 11/20/2021)
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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].
Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet [accessed: 11/21/2021]. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center at Uvalde: (accessed: 11/21/2021)
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Wikipedia contributors, 'Mimosa', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 19 November 2021, 20:45 UTC,
<> [accessed 20 November 2021]
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