Sunshine Mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa)

On any given day, I walk mindlessly through parking lots.  Planted with a small specimen tree and surrounded with annuals.  Looking good for a few months, all too soon, they succumb to their environmental conditions and become withered mounds of foliage.  Spent flowers become one with a heap of dried up mulch.  So, it has become habit, not to look at the landscaping as I make my way to my truck.

So, the day I entered a local organic wholesale company and had to get my camera, caught me by surprise.  Medians were planted with a variety of native plants.  A colorful mix of  Prostrate porterweed, Mimosa strigillosa, Southern Red Cedar  and Bahama Senna.

As I took pictures, I thought how the bees that were buzzing around must be loving this little piece of paradise as much as I was.  Sunshine mimosa is also a host for our little Sulphur butterfly.  Its delicate foliage forms a dense carpet beneath the flurry of little pink powder puffs.  They seem to dance in the slightest breeze… beautiful!

Sunshine Mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa)

Sunshine Mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa)

Sunshine mimosa can be used in your landscape too and makes a great substitute for traditional lawn grass.  It can withstand light foot traffic and can be mowed (to about 4″).  Be mindful of your space because you will want to allow it to spread without having to keep pruning it back.

Because of Sunshine Mimosa’s general usefulness as a landscaping plant it was named one of the 2008 plants of the year by the Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association.

I rate this:  A happy little plant.  Much more exciting than turf.

Origin:  Open, disturbed sites.  Georgia, southward to south-central peninsular Florida.  Absent from Alabama and the western Florida panhandle.  A western form occurs in Louisiana and eastern and southern Texas.

USDA Zone:  8 – 10 (leaf damage at 15 degrees)

Flowering Months:  Spring through summer

Salt Tolerance:  Moderate

Drought Tolerance:  High

Soil:  Thrives in moist, sunny areas, it will also grow in rather dry sandy areas.

Propagation:  Rooted cuttings and seeds

Similar and related species:  Sensitive briar (M. quadrivalvis) is very similar in foliage and flower but is not much used in landscaping and gardening.  Its stems are armed with tiny prickles

Resources:

University of Florida Lee County Extension

Florida’s Best Native Landscape Plants by: Gil Nelson.  Published by University Press of Florida

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