Seed collected from MPF’s Stilwell Prairie. Photo: Scott Lenharth

Sensitive Briar (Mimosa quadrivalvis var. nuttallii)

Distinguishing Characteristics

Juvenile stem smooth with paired fern-like leaflets; older stem with numerous hooked prickles; fern-like leaflets close when touched.


Trailing or creeping plant.




Flowers on long stalks arising from leaf axils in ball-shaped heads of many funnel-shaped pink to rose-colored minute flowers with stamens protruding.


Commonly found in the Ozarks and prairie regions of Missouri in open woodlands, savannas, glades, prairies and roadsides. Occasionally used in seeding mixes, the deep-rooted perennial withstands some grazing. It’s also called devil’s shoe lace because of the small prickles on older stems. Plant tends to creep across the ground and over nearby vegetation. Sensitive briar is a good food source for wildlife and nectar source for insects. Despite the prickly stems, cattle forage readily on this species.

small tan seeds next to ruler showing size.

Seeds (scale is in 1/16 inch increments)

small green seedling


Sall green plant with opp leaves


Sall green plant with opp leaves

Distinguishing Characteristics

Sall green plant with opp leaves