Photographer's Note

My Mimosa Tree

These trees are found along roadsides in North Carolina. Years ago, I pulled one out and planted it in the front yard: It has become a large, beautiful tree over time. Unfortunately, it’s a very “dirty” tree: These flowers are short-lived and drop all over the place. In the fall, the leaves dry out and small parts litter the ground. To make matters worse, we park our cars under the tree. Pretty, but what a mess! (See WS for the tree's location.)

Mimosa is a genus of about 400 species of herbs and shrubs, in the subfamily Mimosoideae of the legume family Fabaceae. The most curious plant in the genus is Mimosa pudica because of the way it folds its leaves when touched or exposed to heat; many others also fold their leaves in the evening. It is native to southern Mexico, Uruguay and Central America but is widely cultivated elsewhere for its curiosity value, both as an indoor plant in temperate areas, and outdoors in the tropics. Outdoor cultivation has led to weedy invasion in some areas, notably Hawaii.

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