Wild Tantan
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Wild Tantan
aturalized Photo: Anurag Sharma
Common name: Wild Tantan, prostrate bundleflower, dwarf koa, desmanto, slender mimosa
Botanical name: Desmanthus virgatus    Family: Mimosaceae (Touch-me-not family)
Synonyms: Mimosa virgata, Acacia virgata

Wild Tantan is a woody perennial herb or shrub growing up to 1.5-3 m tall. Its leaves and stem die back to the woody taproot during dry conditions and sprout up again when adequate moisture is available. One plant can grow up to 50 stems, becoming quite robust. The older stems are brown to red in color and are shiny and hairless. The leaves are bipinnate, divided into a few pairs of leaflets which are each subdivided into smaller leaflets that measure up to 7-9 mm long. The inflorescence is a head of up to 11-22 flowers. The plant bears perfect, male, and sterile flowers. The flowers are white to yellowish. A short stalk bears up to 11 pods which are linear in shape, dark red to blackish in color, and up to 8.5-9 cm long. They split open along each edge to release up to 26-30 seeds each. Flowers and fruits are produced year-round in tropical locales with enough water. Outside the tropics it reproduces mainly in spring and summer. Wild Tantan is native to South America, naturalized in India.

Identification credit: Anurag Sharma
Photographed in Tharalu estate, Bangalore.
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