The Mimosa: An International Women’s Day Flower

Just about everyone has heard of the Mimosa cocktail. A delicious combination of champagne and orange juice that goes perfectly with a mid-morning brunch, but did you know there is also a Mimosa flower? 

I didn’t.

The mimosa cocktail was named after the colors of the mimosa flowers. With their fluffy yellow blooms, Mimosas have been compared to rays of sunshine. They are also the symbol of International Women’s Day. If you’re as curious as I was, read on to understand more about these fascinating flowers.

A Beautiful wicker basket of Mimosa Flowers tied in a yellow bow on a woodgrain background

The Mimosa: A History

The Mimosa tree, known as the ‘night sleeper’ or the ‘Persian silk tree’, is a deciduous plant native to North Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. It is believed to have different meanings depending on the culture and the region it’s found in.

Mimosa is a genus that consists of about 400 species of different shrubs and herbs. Derived from the Greek words ‘mimos’ meaning ‘actor’ or ‘mime’, and ‘osa’ meaning ‘resembling’, these two words accurately describe how the flower mimics the response of life. Its leaves quickly react to touch, drooping as soon as it detects the slightest movement.

While yellow seems to be the most common, Mimosa shrubs can actually produce a wide range of different blooms between January and March. They grow fast, some reaching up to 10 meters in height, and have a lifespan of over 50 years.

This distinctive tree is well respected – even revered – in certain parts of the world. Here’s a quick summary of the top five interesting meanings behind this beautiful tree.

1. The Strength and Sensibility of a Woman

A symbol of International Women’s Day, the use of this flower can be traced back over a hundred years. Mimosa branches are shared between women fighting for gender equality and women’s rights. Giving mimosa flowers shows appreciation for women and has become a time-honored tradition.

2. Secret Love

The yellow mimosas in particular are popular symbols of secret love. According to a poem entitled, “I Am Like a Mimosa Tree”, by Wade Lancaster – a person in love is similar to a mimosa tree, with a fragrant aroma and beautiful flowers meant for someone special. The tree also provides shade, which is closely connected to the comfort and security that a love can bring. Add a few mimosa blooms to bouquets to express one’s secret love for someone special.

3. Protection and Security

As mentioned above, the tree’s branches can cover a large area over a short period, offering shade against the harsh rays of the sun. One particular species – Mimosa Tenuiflora – is valued for its medicinal properties. Pharmaceutical industries use it to produce certain types of drugs, which provide protection against various diseases. 

4. Sensitivity and Tolerance

While tolerant and resilient to many harsh conditions, the leaves of the mimosa tree will fold up when touched or when exposed to the cold. As a result, it is symbolic for tolerance as well as sensitivity. Many believe this tree offers the strength and resilence to handle difficult situations. 

5. Death and Mourning

While yellow mimosa flowers are perfect expressions of love and admiration, white blooms usually represent death and mourning. White mimosas are often used at funerals or when offering one’s sympathy and condolences. Asian countries such as Japan, China, and Korea, believe having white mimosas at a wedding is considered extremely offensive. 

A beautiful arrangement of mimosa's in yellow and other flowers in yellow and orange. View from above

International Women’s Day, March 8th

International Women’s Day (IWD) originated over 100 years ago. First celebrated in New York in 1909, this amazing holiday was originally organized by the Socialist Party of America. However, it didn’t become a worldwide celebration until 1977 when the United Nations designated it as International Women’s Day. 

For those who celebrate this holiday in Italy, “La Festa Della Donna” is the tradition where loved ones share mimosa flowers with the women in their lives. La Festa Della Donna was first observed in 1922, but it wasn’t until 1946 that it was granted its fluffy yellow symbol: the mimosa flower.

Although historians aren’t exactly certain about the origin of this tradition, one version of the story seems agreed upon. It was most likely Teresa Mattei, a politician, and national director of the Italian Women’s Union who first introduced the flower as a symbol of women’s strength, sensibility, and sensitivity.

Not only was it a great representation of the time of the year, but it drove home the true meaning of the women’s movement as a whole. The creation of an environment in which women could thrive naturally. Perhaps the most significant connection of the mimosa to the movement is the fact that, despite its frail, delicate appearance, the mimosa is actually quite resilient. It requires very little maintenance and thrives in the harshest of conditions, which are considered the hallmarks of being a strong, independent woman.

Happy Women's Day Flowers on a blue background

Medicinal uses for Mimosa Shrubs

Mimosas aren’t just beautiful ornamental plants, they have a strong medicinal background as well. The extracts from mimosa bark possess strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It has a reputation for being an effective treatment for wounds and skin problems. In some countries, mimosa roots are used to make a warm paste which is then placed over wounds to prevent bleeding and relieve itching.

One of the most popular varieties of mimosa, Mimosa Pudica (also known as the ‘sleeping tree’), is believed to aid in the treatment of various health issues such as diarrhea, muscle pain, and rheumatism. In addition, mimosa seeds are used as the main ingredient in herbal capsules that claim to cleanse your digestive tract by removing harmful toxins and bacteria.

Some studies have shown that Mimosa Pudica seeds may help with mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, as well. It’s said to help boost serotonin levels by improving gut health, preventing chemical imbalances that cause the usual symptoms of anxiety and depression: irritability, trouble sleeping, and melancholy feelings.

How to Make Your Own Mimosa Stem

Celebrate International Women’s Day with your circle of friends by gifting them a handmade Mimosa Stem they can hold on to forever. 

What you’ll need:

  • Yellow Yarn
  • Bendable craft wire
  • Large craft wire
  • Green floral tape
  • Craft scissors

Instructions:

  • Wrap a length of yellow yarn around your finger many times, until you’ve built a nice round mound. 
  • Gently remove the yarn from your finger, making sure it doesn’t come unraveled, then wrap bendable craft wire over the middle and twist all the way to the end of your wire, both securing the yarn ball and creating a stem for your mimosa. 
  • Using your craft scissors, carefully cut the loops of yarn, trimming and fluffing until you have a sort of pompom on a stick.
  • Conceal the wire stem with green floral tape.
  • Repeat several times, depending on how large you want your mimosa stem to be (think 30-40 mini stems)
  • Fold your large craft wire in half, leaving a small loop at the top. Conceal wire with green floral tape, starting just under that loop and going all the way to the bottom. 
  • Take 2 or 3 mini stems and combine together with floral tape, then attach that to the top loop of the large stem. Tie together with floral tape, adding more mini blooms as you go down the wire. 
  • Continue wrapping the tape and adding blooms until you’ve used them all. 
  • Finishing touch, adjust the individual blooms until it looks pleasing to the eye. 
  • Give one to every strong, independent woman you know! 

(For visual instructions, click here: DIY | How To Make Mimosa Flowers)

You’ve learned a ton about International Women’s Day and Mimosa’s. Now what?

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