Mimosa quadrivalvis var. nuttallii (Syn. Mimosa nuttallii)(Cat’s Claw/Sensitive Briar)

Mimosa quadrivalvis var. nuttallii (Cat’s Claw Briar) on 6-24-22, #895-3.

Cat’s Claw, Sensitive Briar, Nuttall’s Sensitive Briar

Mimosa quadrivalvis

(Mimosa quadrivalvis var. nuttallii)

mim-MOH-suh  kwad-rih-VAL-is  nut-AL-ee-eye


Mimosa nuttallii

Synonyms of Mimosa quadrivalis (4)(Updated on 12-24-22 from Plants of the World Online): Leptoglottis quadrivalvis (L.) Britton & Rose (1928), Morongia aculeata A.Heller (1898)(nom. superfl.), Schrankia aculeata Willd. (1806)(nom. superfl.), Schrankia quadrivalvis (L.) Merr. (1910)
Synonyms of Mimosa quadrivalis var. nuttallii (6)(Updated on 12-24-22): Leptoglottis mimosoides Small (1928), Leptoglottis nuttallii DC. (1827) (nom. inval.), Leptoglottis nuttallii DC. ex Torr. & A.Gray (1840), Mimosa nuttallii (DC. ex Torr. & A.Gray) B.L.Turner (1994), Schrankia nuttallii (DC. ex Torr. & A.Gray) Standl. (1930), Schrankia mimosoides (Small) Standl. (1936)

Mimosa quadrivalvis L. is the accepted scientific name for this species of Mimosa. The genus AND species were first named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.

Mimosa quadrivalvis var. nuttallii (DC. ex. Torr. & A.Gray) Beard ex Barneby is the accepted infraspecific species name for the plant represented on this page. It was described as such by Rupert Charles Barneby in Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden in 1991. He gives credit to John Stanley Beard for first naming the species. It was first named Leptoglottis nuttallii by Augustin Pyramus de Candolle in Mémoires sur la famille des Légumineuses in 1827 (nom. inval.). The name wasn’t validly published until 1840 in Flora of North America by John Torrey and Asa Gray (Leptoglottis nuttallii DC. ex Torr. & A.Gray, Fl. N. Amer. (Torr. & A.Gray) 1(4): 696 (1840)). However, they mention the plant having white flowers… 

The Missouri Plants website says plants found in Missouri are assigned to this variety.

Accepted Infraspecific Names (9)(Updated on 12-24-22): Mimosa quadrivalvis var. angustata (Torr. & A.Gray) Barneby, Mimosa quadrivalvis var. diffusa (Rose) Beard ex Barneby, Mimosa quadrivalvis var. jaliscensis (J.F.Macbr.) Beard ex Barneby, Mimosa quadrivalvis var. nuttallii (DC. ex Torr. & AGray) Beard ex BarnebyMimosa quadrivalvis var. occidentalis (Wooton & Standl.) Barneby, Mimosa quadrivalvis var. paucijuga (Britton & Rose) Beard ex Barneby, Mimosa quadrivalvis var. platycarpa (A.Gray) Barneby, *Mimosa quadrivalvis var. quadrivalvis (autonym), Mimosa quadrivalvis var. urbaniana Barneby. *When an infraspecific taxon is named, an autonym (“type-specimen”) is automatically generated whose description is closest to the (original) species. All have their own list of synonyms…

As of 12-24-22 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 595 species in the Mimosa genus. It is a member of the plant family Fabaceae with 380 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.

Distribution map for Mimosa nuttallii from the USDA Plants Database. Published on the internet at https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov/home. Retrieved on December 24, 2022.

The above distribution map for Mimosa nuttallii is from the USDA Plants Database. They are using Mimosa nuttallii as the species name. Just be aware of that if you click on the link… The USDA Plants Database has a map for Mimosa quadrivalis, but this variety isn’t recognized as an accepted lower taxon yet. The map on Plants of the World Online for this species is not up to date.  They get their maps for North America from Flora of North America. FNA does not include the plant family Fabaceae YET. Once they do, POWO will update their maps for the family.

The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as members post new observations.


Mimosa quadrivalvis var. nuttallii (Cat’s Claw Briar) on 6-24-22, #895-4.

I was driving on a back road I frequently travel on June 24 in 2022, and I stopped at this particular curve to check on a species I had previously identified when I noticed this cluster of pink flowers I hadn’t seen before. I looked at the leaves and the leaves folded up when I touched them. AH HA!!! I finally found the plant I hadn’t seen since I was a kid! When I am out wildflower hunting on the farm, I always touch the leaves of plants with leaves like this. Not until June 24 did any fold up. It was an exciting moment for sure! My grandparents had a good-sized Mimosa tree in their yard and that’s what these leaves always reminded me of. Of course, there are several locust trees with similar leaves as well.

Of course, I took a lot of photos to submit to iNaturalist and their first suggestion was Mimosa nuttallii. I then checked with the Missouri Plants website as a cross-reference. Missouri Plants said the name was Mimosa quadrivalis and the plants found in Missouri are assigned to the variety name var. nuttallii… SO, from there I went to Plants of the World Online which said Mimosa nuttallii was a synonym of Mimosa quadrivalis var. nuttallii. I usually don’t write new pages until winter comes and I can’t get outside much. When I was writing this page on December 23-24, I noticed the basionym author’s name was whacky compared to Tropicos (Missouri Botanical Garden database). I did some research and found several errors. When these organizations are short-staffed and work is piled up, I think they get in a hurry…

Mimosa quadrivalvis var. nuttallii (Cat’s Claw Briar) on 6-24-22, #895-5.

I wanted to get this page published along with the photos but I will come back later and write descriptions. This is a winter project and I kind of dread writing descriptions in my own words. It takes a lot of time and then I want to take a nap. There are several links at the bottom of the page that have really good “technical” descriptions.

Mimosa quadrivalvis var. nuttallii (Cat’s Claw Briar) on 6-24-22, #895-6.

The stems are really thorny…

Mimosa quadrivalvis var. nuttallii (Cat’s Claw Briar) on 6-24-22, #895-7.

As you can see from the above photo, the leaves fold up…

Mimosa quadrivalvis var. nuttallii (Cat’s Claw Briar) on 6-24-22, #895-8.

I live on the family farm in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street, and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 250 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a few horticulturalists I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be variable from location to location, so that can be a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.

I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at thebelmontrooster@yahoo.com. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.

The websites below may be for Mimosa quadrivalisMimosa nuttallii, or Mimosa quadrivalvis var. nuttallii.



(M. nuttallii/M. quadrivalis)


NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂