Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Wildflower Wednesday: Mimosa strigillosa

What better way to start off the new year than a conversation on native plants. Why natives? Plants indigenous to your region are more resilient to local conditions and provide a wide range of forage and habitat for pollinators and beneficial insects who are the heroes of our ecosystem.

Since 90% of insects require a native plant to complete their life cycle (host plant), it is critical now more than ever that gardeners include natives in their landscape design if for no other reason than to improve the function of the local ecosystem. Gail over at Clay and Limestone is a pioneer of planting for pollinators and encouraging others through her once a month meme, Wildflower Wednesday.  One of my goals this year is to participate each month, profiling plants that perform well in my Ecoregion (see sidebar to find your Ecoregion details).

While the garden is resting, it's a good time to look back at last year and evaluate which plants performed well, which did not and decide what areas of the garden need revitalizing.

A ground cover added to our landscape two years ago (and more last year) is Mimosa strigillosa, commonly known as powderpuff, sunshine mimosa, or sensitive plant. It has performed exceptionally well in well drained areas our garden.

Southern Meadows

This mat forming perennial grows well in sunny spots and can withstand foot traffic and mowing, growing about 3 to 4 inches tall. It spreads by fast growing criss-crossing rhizomes, which we had to trim periodically when it got a little carried away growing over our stone steps. We added this mimosa in several hillside areas, for texture and color, while aiding in erosion control.

Southern Meadows

Mimosa strigillosa is in the legume family and like other members in this family, the roots have a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen fixing bacteria found in soils. The plant's roots produce small nodules that aide in adding the nitrogen back into the soil. It grows very well in poor soil and is drought tolerant.

Southern Meadows

This native trailing plant puts out new blooms each day to the delight of the pollinators. Bees are especially attracted to the showy flowers but butterflies and flies also visited the blooms frequently. Mimosa strigillosa does double duty as a host plant for the little sulphur butterfly.

Southern Meadows

So if you are in need of a ground cover for a sunny situation, which will improve your soil and assist in erosion control all while supporting pollinators, this plant is for you. For more details and native range see USDA Plant Fact Sheet.

Click here to see more Wildflower Wednesday celebrations across the globe.

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I hope you will consider supporting your local ecosystem by
  • growing more native plants to support pollinators,
  • using more organic gardening practices that make use of beneficial insects,
  • get to know your soil and all the ground dwelling microorganisms that create magic in your garden,
  • appreciate the role of wildlife in your ecosystem. It's not just the cute and beautiful critters that work hard to keep a healthy and diverse environment, and
  • stop planting invasive species and/or remove invasive plants from your garden.

25 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this beauty! I hadn't heard of it. I'm not as familiar with the native plants of the South but want to learn more.

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    1. Welcome Cultivated & Wild! Thanks for visiting here. I write mostly on native plants that grow in our garden in Georgia and their impact on the ecosystem and wildlife. I hope you will return to see more of what our corner of the world offers.

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  2. Happy WW! Mimosa strigillosa is a beauty and I am sad to say not native to my garden. Love the intro and encouragement to readers to plant native. xogail

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    1. It has a haphazard range, not sure why it doesn't like to grow in Alabama either.

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  3. What a gorgeous plant, Karin - we, of course, are well outside of it's native range but I can nonetheless appreciate it's beauty and the benefits it brings to your garden :)

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    1. yeah, we just have to lust after plants online sometimes, right.

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  4. Wow, I was totally unfamiliar with this plant. It is so lovely, and I was wondering if it could replace some of the invasive ivy I constantly battle in the woods adjacent to my garden - but then you said sunny situation, and also from your above comment I guess there is a reason I haven't seen it growing in Alabama.

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    1. It's a bit odd that it doesn't grow in Alabama but does in all the other gulf coast states. You might try it. It would be an excellent replacement for the invasive ivy. Plant profiles state that it will grow in part shade so you might try it and see how it does for you.

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  5. Very pretty! I have seen it here in MS in the wild
    Have a wonderful day!

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    1. That's really cool that you've seen it in it's natural environment.

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  6. This is a beautiful plant. I remember seeing it in Florida when I was there. Do the hummingbirds like it in your garden? The foliage is as pretty as the flowers, for sure. Happy belated Wildflower Wednesday!

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    1. The foliage definitely has a tropical feel. I've never observed hummingbirds visiting the blooms but I'll watch this summer to see if they do.

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  7. That's a wonderful plant, but being a host for sulphur butterflies is reason enough to plant it.

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    1. I agree Jason! Host plant for butterflies and other insects are essential in any garden.

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  8. Interesting to discover a groundcover mimosa.
    We are needing to think harder about plants for bees and sunbirds - so we all can come thru the drought.

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    1. Absolutely. The pollinators need all the additional help they can get from us.

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  9. Now that is another adorable plant with an adorable common name! Alas, it's another that I can't grow.

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    1. It does have a very specific range and growth requirements. It's kind of how I feel when I see photos of conifers that I can't grow here because of heat issues.

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  10. That is one happy vine... I had to use google to discover why mine don't look like that... Different variety.... At my house, and what I've observed in other wild tracts... Mimosa microphylla

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    1. microphylla looks similar but has those hooked prickers

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  11. I've seen this plant at the NC Botanical Garden! It's in the coastal plain/Sandhills section. Not really in a garden setting but more a natural habitat setting. The Garden does yearly burns in that section and much of what's growing there just came up from the soil they trucked in there. Sounds like they must have added this since it doesn't grow wild in NC. It makes a beautiful groundcover in your garden!

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    1. On second thought, maybe what I saw was the similar sensitive briar, which is native to NC.

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  12. Hi Karen, I am just visiting the blogs of those who visited mine for Wildflower Wednesday. I love the mimosa! I will check to see if it is also native to Nebraska, but have a feeling it may not be.

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  13. We don't have that species here, but of course we have some other mimosas here in the tropics. They have the same flower umbel structure. However, our M. diplotricha is scary because of its very sharp thorns.

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  14. I will check to see if it is also native to Nebraska, but have a feeling it may not be.


    Royal1688

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"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

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