Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Nuttall’s sensitive-briar

with 32 comments

Mimosa nuttallii Leaves and Flower Globe 1737

Similar to the sensitive-briar you recently saw from Burnet County is one from an April 27th field trip to Bastrop State Park led by botanist Bill Carr. This time the species is Mimosa nuttallii, known as Nuttall’s sensitive-briar. Here you get a good look at the way the compound leaves of both species close up when something touches them, hence the sensitive part of the name sensitive-briar.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 17, 2014 at 5:50 AM

32 Responses

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  1. Beautiful flower.

    Dan Traun

    June 17, 2014 at 6:21 AM

  2. i noted one ‘ambling’ across and up a young tree in my yard this past week.. it has a lemon-yellow colored flower, however! i’d go inspect it closer right now, but i’m traveling (on my way to CR)

    in CR, i will photograph that spiny lantana for you…


    • That’s a coincidence, because the first time I ever saw a sensitive-briar (I don’t know what species) was in Honduras in 1968 or ’69, in the outskirts of Tegucigalpa. It made an impression on me because I still remember it all these years later.

      Here in Austin we have a couple of species of Neptunia, which have leaves that close up like the sensitive-briar’s but whose flowers are yellow. Perhaps the plant in your yard is in that genus.

      Happy visit to Costa Rica. We’ll look forward to the souvenirs from your trip.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 17, 2014 at 7:50 AM

  3. Beautiful! I do love Mimosa 🙂

  4. I like the rich color and the tiny drops of water.

    Jim in IA

    June 17, 2014 at 8:10 AM

  5. This title caught my eye … as I have a colleague with the surname of Nuttall … nice color. D

    Pairodox Farm

    June 17, 2014 at 3:43 PM

  6. Delightful little flower as well as a charming and withdrawn foliage. I’ve only seen them as house plants where they were the life of the party….until the liquid Mimosas showed up.

    Steve Gingold

    June 17, 2014 at 4:16 PM

  7. Oh Steve, thanks for sharing this Mimosa! I’m in Florida now and I discovered Mimosa strigillosa here on the front sidewalk of where I’m staying. This one is round globose as M. pudica also. How many Mimosas have you shot so far? Soon, I will be going back to P.R. to my tropicals.

    Maria F.

    June 17, 2014 at 7:52 PM

    • Hi, Maria. If you scroll through


      you can see the three native species of Mimosa I’ve shown. I’ve heard of M. strigillosa, which grows in some parts of Texas but not my area. It was probably M. pudica that I encountered in Hounduras 45 years ago, the first time I ever saw a plant whose leaves close up when touched.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 17, 2014 at 8:21 PM

      • M. strigillosa is supposed to grow in TX, according to the USDA map, FL, LA, MS, AR, and GA., and it’s not completely globose I found out. It also grows closer to the ground and it’s easier to keep as a groundcover.

        Maria F.

        June 17, 2014 at 8:32 PM

  8. We call them the shy plant.


    June 18, 2014 at 7:18 AM

    • My wife is from the Philippines, and in her language the name for the plant also means ‘the shy one.’ One vernacular English name that I’ve read about for plants in this genus is shame-boy.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 18, 2014 at 7:31 AM

  9. I like the way the tiny water droplets echo the bits of pollen, and I love that you’ve captured the leaves folded rather than open. But what I like the most is the way the pair of folded leaves resembles someone holdling their hands up to their face — as if in a gesture of shyness or chagrin.


    June 19, 2014 at 7:35 PM

    • I think this was the first time I’d photographed a wet sensitive-briar flower globe, so the drops were a new element for me to play with in portraying this kind of plant. As you might have noticed in the previous comment and response, in various languages the name for the sensitive-briar incorporates the notion of shyness. I hadn’t seen the two folded leaves in this picture as shielding covering a face, but you make a good case for that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 19, 2014 at 7:57 PM

  10. […] column has brought you several pictures of sensitive-briars, whose compound leaves perform the neat trick of folding up within seconds after something touches […]

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