Uses for Mimosa Hostilis

Mimosa hostilis is a variety of mimosa tree that is native to the Amazon basin in Brazil and can grow as far north as southern Mexico. Traditionally used for leather tanning, dyes, and religious ceremonies, the bark and roots of this tree have been used by native Central and South Americans for a long time. Although it contains a hallucinogenic compound, Mimosa hostilis compounds, like many natural compounds, played a major role in traditional cultures. Although it isn't commonly cultivated in North America, Mimosa hostilis will grow in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hardiness Zones 9a and warmer.

Religious and Shamanistic

Mimosa hostilis contains a hallucinogenic compound that has made it sacred in traditional religious and shamanistic rituals in Central and South America. The plant is made into a beverage that is called Wine of Jurema. Mimosa hostilis is used in modern Ayahuasca recipes. Ayahuasca is a beverage used commonly in the Amazon for religious and medicinal benefits. The legal status of Mimosa hostilis is a gray area. The plant and tree itself is not controlled, but specific extracts to concentrate the hallucinogenic compounds of the plant are considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance in the United States.

Natural Leather Production

Although most modern leather is produced using modern chemical processes, the fundamental process of turning an animal skin into leather has not changed much for thousands of years. One of the chemicals used in leather tanning is called tannin. Tannin breaks down collagen in the animal skin to make it more supple. Although modern tanning uses synthetic tannin, Mimosa hostilis can contain as much as 16 percent tannin, and thus is an important component in traditional leather tanning.

Natural Dye

The bark of the Mimosa hostilis tree is a natural dye that produces a deep purple color used in traditional cloth manufacture and coloring. Although used in the dying of traditional cloth, the unique deep purples of Mimosa hostilis dyes make them interesting to people who use traditional methods to weave and dye textiles. Although Mimosa hostilis is known as a deep purple dye, depending on how the root powder is made, it can range from a pinkish purple to a deeper purple.

Keywords: rainforest trees, mimosa uses, mimosa hostilis

About this Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.