Mimosa Flower Meanings, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance

The lovely mimosa flower (Acacia dealbata) has long been the symbol of International Women’s Day. These cheerful yellow blossoms signify strength, solidarity, support, and admiration. They’re a perfect gift when you want to tell someone you care and are thinking of them. The flowers bloom on evergreen trees and shrubs that make a lovely addition to warm, dry sites in the landscape. In this guide, I’ll run through everything you need to know about the Mimosa flower’s meaning and symbolism.

Mimosa Flowers_ An In-Depth Look at Their Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance

Etymology

The genus name Acacia stems from the Greek term akakia or “thorny tree.” This, in turn, comes from the word ake, which means “thorn.” Despite their name, mimosa trees don’t actually have thorns.

The species name, dealbata, translates to “covered in white powder.” This is thought to refer to a lichen that commonly grows on the mimosa’s bark, causing the trees to have a silvery appearance. In the plant’s native New South Wales, the trees are called giigandul and they’ve long been prized for their culinary and medicinal uses.

Mimosa Flowers and International Women’s Day

Branches filled with small circular yellow mimosa flowers in bloom

Mimosa flowers took on additional meaning in the mid-20th century when the bright yellow blossoms symbolized International Women’s Day after World War II. But this annual tradition’s roots stretch to a March 8, 1857 strike of female garment workers in New York, which led to the creation of the first worker’s union for women. In 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist fire killed more than 120 female factory workers.

International Women’s Day was started to commemorate these two events. The connection to the mimosa flower began in Italy in 1946 by one of the country’s first female politicians, Teresa Mattai. Mattai was a vocal critic of the fascist government and a union leader who stood up against anti-Semitism.

At first, International Women’s Day was associated with the violet. But Mattai suggested that the mimosa be the symbol instead, noting that it was a humble flower with the strength and persistence to grow everywhere, thriving even in harsh conditions.

In Italy, the day is known as la Festa Della Donna. On this day, women receive gifts of mimosa flowers as gestures of solidarity. The flowers may be in bouquets or just a simple bud. Often, women take the day off from work and domestic duties to spend time with their female friends and sisters while enjoying a special mimosa cake that’s bright yellow to resemble the namesake flowers.

The flowers are also used as a symbol of the city of Rome. Artists feature mimosa plants in their works, as well.

Today, the flowers represent strength, solidarity, support, admiration, and sympathy. They’re a perfect addition to floral gifts when you want to show someone you care and that you’re thinking of them, as well as for a birthday, congratulations, or milestone accomplishment. And, of course, they’re a must on International Women’s Day, March 8.

Victorian Language of Flowers

In the Victorian era, flowers were used to convey specific messages, and the mimosa flower (Acacia dealbata) in floriography was associated with secret love and sensitivity.

Yellow flowers carry symbolic meaning dating back to the ancient Mayan civilization. They can symbolize anything from joy to jealousy, hope to disappointment.

Cultural Significance Around the World

Mimosa flowers, especially those from the Acacia species such as the silver wattle (Acacia dealbata), hold significant symbolic value in certain cities and countries worldwide.

The golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha), a type of mimosa, is the national floral emblem of Australia. Here, the golden wattle blooms in the Australian spring, producing a mass of fragrant, golden flowers, and its green and gold colors are reflected in many Australian national symbols.

The coastal city of Saranda in Albania hosts an annual festival called the “Festival of Mimosa” to celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The festival includes various events such as parades, concerts, and art exhibitions, with mimosa flowers playing a central role in the decorations and celebrations.

Wrapping Up

The cheerful, resilient mimosa flower (Acacia dealbata) is the symbol for International Women’s Day. Their message of strength, solidarity, support, and admiration is a great way to let someone know that you support them. These evergreen shrubs and trees thrive in warm, sunny spots and bring bright yellow blooms to the spring garden.

Further reading: Discover 55 beautiful types of yellow flowers for your garden or next floral arrangement.

Contributing Editor | linsay@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

Linsay is an American copywriter based in the Pacific Northwest with a background in academic writing and research. Linsay holds Master's degree in both Anthropology and Library and Information Sciences and has written for numerous national and international publications including USA Today, SFGATE, Hunker, and The Bump across an array of topics in the gardening, green living, and travel sectors. When she's not writing, you'll usually find Linsay reading, kayaking, sailing, snowboarding, or working in her garden.

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