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.
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.
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.
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".
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 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.