The mimosa tree is a member of the bean family that produces small, pom-pom-like flowers and has multi-part leaves that look very much like ferns. Some varieties of mimosa tree are unique in that touching their leaves will cause the leaves to curl up. The mimosa is sometimes called the "sensitive tree." Mimosa is often a part of many mythological stories.
The Indian myth, found in the Shatapatha Brahmana (XI, 5) lists the mimosa and mimosa wood as important in ritual sacrifice. According to the story, a man and a nymph fall in love and marry. One of the rules of the marriage between worlds is that the man never the nymph to see him fully naked. The other nymphs conspired to get the married nymph back and created a situation where she would see her husband naked. Distraught, the man went to the nymphs and as part of a one-year process, was told to cook rice on mimosa and pipal wood for a year to create the fire on which he could sacrifice himself to rejoin his wife. After stepping onto the fire, he became Gandaharva.
The mimosa tree also plays a pivotal role in the Indian myth of Dharmabuddhi and Pâpabuddhi. In this myth, Dharmabuddhi and Pâpabuddhi set out to make their fortunes in the world. After making their fortune, Pâpabuddhi suggests burying their fortune to keep others from desiring money when they returned home. Dharmabuddhi agreed. They buried the chest and returned home. At some point, Pâpabuddhi returned and stole the entire treasure. Eventually, Dharmabuddhi took him to court and Pâpabuddhi suggested using a tree goddess as a witness. He convinced his father to hide in the trunk of a large mimosa tree and issue responses appropriate to those of a tree goddess who had see Dharmabuddhi steal the treasure. His father agreed. During the testimony, Dharmabuddhi set the tree on fire forcing Pâpabuddhi's father out. The father confessed the plot before dying from his injuries. Pâpabuddhi was hung from the branch of the mimosa tree for theft.
The Acadia tree is a type of mimosa. In Hebrew, this type of tree is talled the Shittah tree. Shittah wood is said to have been used in the manufacture both of the Tabernacle and of the Ark of the Covenant. The Shittah tree is also often symbolic of the Burning Bush, even though it is a different form of the tree.
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