The mimosa hostilis plant is well known today and it is of great value to the world of modern medicine as well as traditional and ancestral medicine. This plant or shrub is also known as mimosa tenuiflora and its uses to alleviate various health conditions date back centuries. The Mayans used it to cure diseases and scars and it was also widely used in the native communities and tribes of Brazil due to its healing properties and uses.
This plant, which is known by different names such as jurema, jurema preta, tepezcohuite, and catinga, was already considered a plant full of special qualities and properties to improve people’s health, but its benefits went far beyond its medicinal use. It was only about 150 years ago when the components of this plant began to be studied in more detail and it was when its value to the medical and scientific world grew and expanded rapidly.
Characteristics of the Mimosa Hostilis Plant
The mimosa hostilis plant, or mimosa tenuiflora, is a thorny tree or shrub that belongs to the fabaceae family. It is native to South America and Central America. It can be found in Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras but is mostly distributed in Brazil and Mexico. It is located mainly in semiarid zones.
It has an average height of 1 to 8 meters but its most common height is 4 meters. Its trunk is woody with a reddish brown bark. Its stems are reddish brown and have erect spines up to 3 centimeters long. From its branches sprout leaves that are composed of 10 to 30 pairs of linear to oblong leaflets 3 to 6 mm long and 0.7 to 2 mm wide. Its flower is a kind of yellowish-white cylindrical spike 3 to 6 cm long.
Being a family of legumes, its fruit is a pod 4 to 6 centimeters long and 0.5 cm wide that is divided into 4 to 6 segments that each have a seed inside. The seeds of the mimosa hostilis plant are small, lenticular, oval and flat. They are generally 4 mm long and 3 to 3.8 mm wide. They are reddish brown and have a waterproof testa covered by a shiny wax.
Habitat and Cultivation of Mimosa Hostilis Plant
The mimosa hostilis plant has a great ability to adapt to almost all types of climates and terrains. It is also very resistant to weather changes. In its natural state, this plant is found mainly in semi-arid, subtropical and warm climates. It grows easily in warm areas around 32 degrees Celsius and is usually found in pine forest and open areas. It is tolerant to drought conditions and it adapts well to direct sun and shade but prefers open areas and low humidity.
This tropical plant can be grown without much difficulty and can survive without problems in greenhouses, balconies, terraces and even indoors in pots as it is an easy to grow perennial plant. Its seeds germinate well in different types of soils, whether organic, clay, mixed sandy and others. Since it easily adapts to all types of climate and soils, it is considered an opportunistic plant.
This plant does not consume many resources and is easy to grow and does not require the use of fertilizers. Its main form of multiplication is by seeds. These seeds, in their natural habitat, are subjected to scarification to break their dormancy in a natural way. This occurs when fires break their dormancy. For manual cultivation, it is necessary to recreate the conditions of a fire or subject the seeds to manual or chemical scarification to obtain a higher percentage of successful germination.
Uses of the Mimosa Hostilis Plant
When the plants are small, they make good houseplants and are given an ornamental use as they can be grown in pots and can live well indoors or in balconies and terraces for years as they grow.
Its medicinal uses date back centuries. The Mayans used this plant to heal wounds, burns, and skin irritations and infections. In the traditional culture of some Brazilian tribes, this plant has also been used for hundreds of years due to its healing properties. It is considered a sacred plant capable of relieving skin and other medical conditions.
Due to its skin regenerative properties, anti-aging properties are attributed to it. This plant helps to improve the appearance of wrinkles and to combat signs of aging in the skin, which makes it of great interest in the cosmetic world and today, it is found in numerous beauty products such as soaps, creams and shampoo.
Ecological and agroforestry uses
Mimosa hostilis has uses beyond medicinal and cosmetic. This plant, which has a strong and rot-resistant wood, is used for the construction of buildings, bridges, poles and furniture. Its nitrogen-fixing bacteria make it a special plant for soil bioremediation as it combats soil erosion and helps in soil reforestation.
Its pods and leaves serve as a source of protein for local animals and this plant is also a source of fodder for bees, especially in times of drought and at the beginning of the rainy season.
Benefits of the Mimosa Hostilis Plant
Clinical studies have been carried out on this plant to confirm its healing and regenerative properties and its effect on cell regeneration. Its health benefits are numerous. It is especially beneficial for skin care as it acts positively in the treatment of burns, scars, acne, skin irritation and other skin conditions.
It also brings a number of other medical benefits such as relieving toothache, cough, dandruff, and seborrhea. It is effective in the treatment of venous leg ulceration as well as other health conditions.
Its benefits go beyond the medicinal and cosmetic because of its characteristics, composition and properties; it also provides ecological benefits as it serves as food for local animals and as fodder for bees. It also provides agroforestry benefits as it combats drought and helps reforest soils. Its wood is a source of fuel and charcoal and is also used for construction due to its strength and resistance.