Giant sensitive tree

Giant sensitive tree

Mimosa pigra

Common Name:

Giant sensitive tree

Scientific Name:

Mimosa pigra

Alternative common names:

Catclaw mimosa. 


Giant sensitive tree is a woody invasive shrub that originates from Brazil and has now become widespread throughout the tropics. It favours wet tropical climates. It has the potential to spread through natural grassland floodplain ecosystems and pastures, converting them into unproductive scrub land, which is only able to sustain lower levels of biodiversity. It is on the list of the world's 100 worst invasive species in the Invasive Species Specialist Groups Global Invasive Species Database. 

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?


What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 1b.

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Mpumalanga, North West, Gauteng, Limpopo.

How does it spread?

The seeds are spread by river water as well as vehicles.

Why is it a problem?

It chokes out cane, crops and grassland, resulting in reduced land value and environmental degradation.

What does it look like?

When mature, the giant sensitive tree is an erect, much branched, prickly shrub reaching a height of 3-6m. Stems are 3m long, greenish at first, becoming woody, and have randomly scattered, slightly recurved prickles 0.5-1cm long.

Leaves: Bright green, feathery and fern-like, 10-20cm long.

Flowers: The flowers are pink or mauve, small, regular and grouped into globular heads 1-2cm in diameter.

Fruit/seeds: The fruit is a thick hairy, 20-25 seeded, flattened pod borne in groups in the leaf axils, each 6.5-7.5cm long and 0.7-1cm wide. The fruit turns brown when mature, breaking into one-seeded segments. The seeds are brown or olive green, oblong, flattened, 4-6mm long and 2mm wide.

Does the plant have any uses?

Can be used as a medicinal plant, as a hedge and for fuel.

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