Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Mimosa casta
(graceful mimosa)

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Datasheet

Mimosa casta (graceful mimosa)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 22 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Mimosa casta
  • Preferred Common Name
  • graceful mimosa
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • M. casta is a fast-growing perennial vine that is included in the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012). The...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Mimosa casta (graceful mimosa); flowers. Conservatory of Flowers, San Francisco, USA.
TitleFlowers
CaptionMimosa casta (graceful mimosa); flowers. Conservatory of Flowers, San Francisco, USA.
Copyright©Eric Hunt - CC BY-SA 3.0
Mimosa casta (graceful mimosa); flowers. Conservatory of Flowers, San Francisco, USA.
FlowersMimosa casta (graceful mimosa); flowers. Conservatory of Flowers, San Francisco, USA.©Eric Hunt - CC BY-SA 3.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Mimosa casta L.

Preferred Common Name

  • graceful mimosa

Other Scientific Names

  • Mimosa dominiciana Desv.

International Common Names

  • Spanish: zarza; zarza mimosa

Local Common Names

  • Lesser Antilles: amourette; cock chien; honteuse mâle; kók chyen
  • Saint Lucia: kwòk chyen

Summary of Invasiveness

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M. casta is a fast-growing perennial vine that is included in the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012). The ability of this species to tolerate a wide range of habitats including disturbed areas, roadsides, pastures, semi-waterlogged areas, as well as natural forests means that it has the potential to spread much further than it has to date. Additionally, the species is able to climb over other species and supports itself on other plants by means of spines which are borne along the length of its stems and petioles, forming a dense cover and presumably competing for resources (i.e., sunlight) with native species. In Puerto Rico, this species is classified as a “noxious weed” (USDA-ARS, 2012).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Fabales
  •                         Family: Fabaceae
  •                             Subfamily: Mimosoideae
  •                                 Genus: Mimosa
  •                                     Species: Mimosa casta

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Fabaceae is one the largest families of flowering plants. This family includes about 745 genera and 19,500 species that can be found throughout the world, growing in many different environments and climates (Stevens, 2012). The subfamily Mimosoideae is characterized by leaves that are often bicompound and have extra-floral nectaries on the petioles. Flowers within this subfamily are small, often borne in heads, and all open more or less simultaneously. The subfamily Mimosoideae includes 82 genera and 3275 species (Stevens, 2012) distributed in tropical and warm temperate zones.

Mimosa is a genus with about 480 species of herbs and shrubs. The name of this genus is derived from the Greek word “mimos” meaning "mimic”. The taxonomy of the genus Mimosa has had a long and complex history, having gone through periods of splitting and lumping, eventually accumulating over 3000 scientific names, many of which have either been synonymies under other species or transferred to other genera. Consequently, the genus Mimosa has been used for species that are currently classified under the genera Albizia and/or Acacia.

Description

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Woody vine, 1-2 m in length. Stems are angular, glabrous, with numerous spines. Leaves are alternate, bipinnate, with a single pair of pinnae. Leaflets 3-4 pairs, elliptical to oblong-lanceolate, 1-3 × 0.5-1.5 cm, the apex acute, the base asymmetrical, one side attenuate, the other rounded, the margins ciliate; upper surface glabrous; lower surface sparsely sericeous, with prominent venation; petioles up to 10 cm long with numerous recurved spines, pulvinate at the base; stipules approximately 5 mm long. Inflorescences in globose and axillary heads, 5-15 mm long. Corolla is white, infundibuliform, 1-2 mm long, glabrous, with 4 lobes and 4 stamens, filaments are free, approximately 1 cm long. Fruit is a legume flattened, glabrous, with 4-5 articulations, and the margin with spines (Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2005).

Plant Type

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Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub
Vine / climber
Woody

Distribution

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The native distribution range of this species includes the Lesser Antilles (including Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Trinidad and Tobago) and Latin America from Panamá to Brazil. M. casta is reported as an “exotic species” in Mexico, French Guyana, and Puerto Rico where it is common at lower and middle elevations (Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2005; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

North America

BarbadosPresentNativeBroome et al. (2007)
DominicaPresentNativeBroome et al. (2007)
GrenadaPresentNativeBroome et al. (2007)
GuadeloupePresentNativeBroome et al. (2007)
JamaicaPresentNativeLiogier (1988)
MartiniquePresentNativeBroome et al. (2007)
MexicoPresentIntroducedVillaseñor and Espinosa-Garcia (2004)
PanamaPresentNativeCorrea et al. (2004)
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedInvasiveAcevedo-Rodríguez (2005)First collections at San Juan are from 1982, now widely spread and classed as a noxious weed
Saint LuciaPresentNativeBroome et al. (2007)
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentNativeBroome et al. (2007)
Trinidad and TobagoPresentNativeGraveson (2011)

South America

BrazilPresentCABI (Undated)Present based on regional distribution.
-AmapaPresentNativeForzza RC et al. (2012)
-AmazonasPresentNativeForzza RC et al. (2012)
-ParaPresentNativeForzza RC et al. (2012)
ColombiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2012)
French GuianaPresentIntroducedFunk et al. (2007)
VenezuelaPresentNativeFunk et al. (2007); Hokche et al. (2008)Delta Amacuro, Bolivar, and Monagas

History of Introduction and Spread

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The timing and history of introduction of M. casta into its non-native range is unknown. In Puerto Rico, it was probably introduced as an ornamental, but the year of this introduction is unknown. The first Smithsonian Herbarium specimen for Puerto Rico was collected in 1982 and by 2005, this species is described as “locally common” on the island (Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2005).

Risk of Introduction

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The risk of introduction of M. casta is high. The presence of spiny fruits means that the species can be easily dispersed by humans and animals in mud or by adhering to fur, clothing, and vehicles. In additions, seeds may remain dormant and viable for several years waiting for suitable conditions to germinate.

Habitat

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M. casta is a rapidly growing perennial, woody vine and it can be found along roadsides, disturbed areas, secondary forest, pastures, riverbanks, dry coastal forest and semi-waterlogged areas. In Puerto Rico this species has been recorded on roadsides and in pastures at lower and middle elevations (Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2005).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

There are no specific genetic studies based on M. casta. However, studies for other Mimosa species suggest that within this genus the number of chromosomes may vary from 22-56 (2n) (Dahmer et al., 2011). 

Reproductive Biology

The principal mechanism of reproduction in M. casta is the production of seeds. Flowers in this species are arranged in an inflorescence. The inflorescence is a head of small flowers that typically bloom for one day. Flowers are visited by insects, and recorded visitors include members of Hymenoptera, Diptera and Coleoptera.

Based on the high pollen/ovule ratio characteristic of the genus Mimosa, a xenogamous breeding system is expected. 

Physiology and Phenology

In Puerto Rico, this species has been collected in flower and fruit in January and February. 

Longevity

M. casta is a perennial vine. Plants grow rapidly and produce abundant stems. Flowering starts about 3-6 months after germination, depending on resource availability. 

Associations

In the Lesser Antilles, M. casta is widespread in moist open and semi-open areas, often degraded, at lower and middle elevations including pastures, grassland with a scattered shrub layer, and coastal forests (Graveson, 2011). In Puerto Rico, this species is a component of the weed community in roadsides, disturbed areas, and pastures in lower and middle elevations (Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2005). As with many Mimosa species, M. casta is a nitrogen-fixing legume and possesses root nodules housing Rhizobium bacteria.

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 15 35

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall7502500mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • impeded
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • shallow

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Propagation of M. casta is mainly by seeds. Seeds can remain viable for several months waiting for suitable conditions to germinate.

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Clothing, footwear and possessionsSpiny fruits Yes USDA-ARS, 2012
Floating vegetation and debrisFruits and seeds Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2012
Land vehiclesFruits and seeds Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2012
LivestockForage for goats Yes Yes Muir, 2009
Machinery and equipmentFruits and seeds Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2012
WaterSeeds Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2012

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Environment (generally) Negative

Economic Impact

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In Puerto Rico, this invasive weed reduces pasture grass growth, increases the costs of road maintenance and results in the increased use of herbicide (USDA-ARS, 2012).

The species often forms compact, impenetrable clumps, mixed with tall grass, weeds, and shrubs. Areas dominated by this species are subject to mowing or burning by farmers, in one- to several-year cycles to protect livestock and plantations.

Environmental Impact

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M. casta is able to cause environmental degradation by out-competing and replacing native vegetation. M. casta is a fast-growing vine that can climb and grow over native species forming a dense monospecific ground cover and limiting the growth of canopy species as well as reducing sunlight reaching the understory.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Fast growing
  • Gregarious
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Host damage
  • Infrastructure damage
  • Monoculture formation
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Rapid growth
  • Produces spines, thorns or burrs

Uses

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M. casta is used in traditional medicine in the Lesser Antilles for the treatment of reproductive problems (USDA-ARS, 2012). Plants are locally used as “honey plants”.

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Forage
  • Invertebrate food

Fuels

  • Fuelwood

Human food and beverage

  • Honey/honey flora

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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M. casta is similar in habit to Mimosa ceratonia, but can be distinguished because the leaves are quite different. In M. casta, leaves are arranged in a single pair of pinnae with 3-4 pairs of leaflets, whereas M. ceratonia has 3-8 pairs of leaflets. M. casta is very closely related to M. schankioides, which has a similar calyx, but less numerous and larger leaflets (Barneby, 1991).

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

In Puerto Rico, this species is classified as a noxious weed and the introduction into Puerto Rico at any plant stage is prohibited (USDA-ARS, 2012).

A study performed in Puerto Rico evaluating the potential use of small ruminants (i.e., goats) to control the growth of invasive plant species including M. casta, has showed that goats consumed basal leaves of M. casta but did not damage the branches or stems. There was, however, 90% reduction on this species in areas subject to goats-browsing. Browsed plants did not recover, but new plants originated from existing seeds in the pasture (Muir, 2009). This study demonstrates that management strategies for the effective control of this invasive species should include active management of plants at different life-cycle stages.

References

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Acevedo-Rodríguez P, 2005. Vines and climbing plants of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Contributions from the United States National Herbarium, 51:483 pp.

Acevedo-Rodríguez P, Strong MT, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, 98:1192 pp. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm

Barneby RC, 1991. Sensitivae censitae: a description of the genus Mimosa Linnaeus (Mimosaceae) in the New World. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden. New York, USA: New York Botanical Garden. 65: iii + 835 pp.

Broome R, Sabir K, Carrington S, 2007. Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database. Barbados: University of the West Indies. http://ecflora.cavehill.uwi.edu/index.html

Correa A, Galdames MDC, Stapf MNS, 2004. Catalogue of vascular plants of Panama (Catalogo de Plantas Vasculares de Panama.), Panama: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 599 pp.

Dahmer N, Simon MF, Schifino-Wittmann MT, Hughes CE, Miotto STS, Giuliani JC, 2011. Chromosome numbers in the genus Mimosa L.: cytotaxonomic and evolutionary implications. Plant Systematics and Evolution, 291(3/4):211-220. http://www.springerlink.com/content/r36560647805p064/

Forzza RC, Leitman PM, Costa AF, Carvalho Jr AA, et al. , 2012. List of species of the Flora of Brazil (Lista de espécies Flora do Brasil). Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Rio de Janeiro Botanic Garden. http://floradobrasil.jbrj.gov.br/2012/

Funk V, Hollowell T, Berry P, Kelloff C, Alexander SN, 2007. Checklist of the plants of the Guiana Shield (Venezuela: Amazonas, Bolivar, Delta Amacuro; Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana). Contributions from the United States National Herbarium, 584 pp.

Graveson R, 2011. Plants of Saint Lucia: A Pictorial Flora of Wild and Cultivated Vascular Plants. http://www.saintlucianplants.com/index.html

Hokche O, Berry PE, Huber O, 2008. Nuevo Catálogo de la Flora Vascular de Venezuela (New catalogue of the vascular flora of Venezuela). Caracas, Venezuela: Fundación Instituto Botánico de Venezuela, 860 pp.

Liogier AH, 1988. Flora of Puerto Rico and Adjacent Islands: A Systematic Synopsis. Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico: Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico.

Muir J, 2009. Sustainable and profitable control of invasive plant species by small ruminants. Final Report., USA: Texas Agricultural Experiment Station.

Randall RP, 2012. A Global Compendium of Weeds. Perth, Australia: Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, 1124 pp. http://www.cabi.org/isc/FullTextPDF/2013/20133109119.pdf

Stevens PF, 2012. Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/APweb/

USDA-ARS, 2012. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysearch.aspx

USDA-NRCS, 2012. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center. http://plants.usda.gov/

Villaseñor JL, Espinosa-Garcia FJ, 2004. The alien flowering plants of Mexico. Diversity and Distributions, 10(2):113-123.

Distribution References

Acevedo-Rodríguez P, 2005. Contributions from the United States National Herbarium, Washington, USA: Department of Systematic Biology - Botany, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. 51, 483 pp.

Broome R, Sabir K, Carrington S, 2007. Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database., Barbados: University of the West Indies. http://ecflora.cavehill.uwi.edu/index.htm

CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status inferred from regional distribution. Wallingford, UK: CABI

CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI

Correa A, Galdames MDC, Stapf MNS, 2004. Catalogue of vascular plants of Panama. (Catalogo de Plantas Vasculares de Panama)., Panama: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. 599 pp.

Forzza RC, Leitman PM, Costa AF, Carvalho Jr AA et al, 2012. List of species of the Flora of Brazil. (Lista de espécies Flora do Brasil)., Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Rio de Janeiro Botanic Garden. http://floradobrasil.jbrj.gov.br/2012/

Funk V, Hollowell T, Berry P, Kelloff C, Alexander S N, 2007. Contributions from the United States National Herbarium, Washington, USA: Department of Systematic Biology - Botany, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. 55, 584 pp.

Graveson R, 2011. Plants of Saint Lucia: A Pictorial Flora of Wild and Cultivated Vascular Plants., http://www.saintlucianplants.com/index.html

Hokche O, Berry PE, Huber O, 2008. New catalogue of the vascular flora of Venezuela. (Nuevo Catálogo de la Flora Vascular de Venezuela)., Caracas, Venezuela, Fundación Instituto Botánico de Venezuela. 860 pp.

Liogier AH, 1988. Flora of Puerto Rico and Adjacent Islands: A Systematic Synopsis., Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico: Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico.

USDA-ARS, 2012. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx

Villaseñor J L, Espinosa-Garcia F J, 2004. The alien flowering plants of Mexico. Diversity and Distributions. 10 (2), 113-123. DOI:10.1111/j.1366-9516.2004.00059.x

Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
Angiosperm Phylogeny Websitehttp://www.mobot.org/mobot/research/apweb/
Flora of the West Indieshttp://botany.si.edu/antilles/WestIndies/
Plants of St. Luciahttp://www.saintlucianplants.com/index.html
Plants of the Eastern Caribbeanhttp://ecflora.cavehill.uwi.edu/index.html

Contributors

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24/10/12 Original text by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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