The Mysterious Sensitive Plant
The Sensitive Plant, Also known as Mimosa pudica. Mimosa, Greek for Mimic and Pudica is Latin for bashful or shrinking. What is so interesting about this plant? You would have to have one to know! True to it's name it is "sensitive" to a person's touch or gentle breeze. the touch of one finger can make the the leaves to close up tightly. This makes the plant look like a Stick! Not only will the leaves close up tight, but the branches will also slowly collapse.This plant is of the pea and bean family. This plant originated from Brazil, Africa and Asia. It grows as a wild weed in the Gulf states. I think that would be an interesting site to see.. a field of wild sensitive plants. Of course if it was windy it would look like nothing but sticks! It is often confused with the Venus Flay trap or the Pitcher plant. These plants are not carnivorous in nature.
Because of it's movements these plants were once thought to have nerves and muscle tissue just liek an animal. The cells somehow lose their pressure and this causes hte leaves to droop. I is not totally understood how these plants move other than it has something to do with calcium ions. It has also been siad that these plants close up in order to keep from being eaten
I usually find the sensitive plant at my local greenhouse early in the year. It has been sort of a tradition with me to get one each year. I had one as a child and every time the spring months come around I think about the Sensitive plant. The plant has been a topic of conversation with friends. One time I gave a plant away to a troubled youth to take care of. I explained to the youth that the plant was a lot like her.. it too closes up when someone gets too close. It was a great ice breaker for me and that child. I have introduced the plant this year to my own child. It is a symbol of bedtime when the leaves close up , and wake up time when the leaves open. I try to keep the drapes shut so we don't get up at 6 Am but that doesn't seem to work.
There is another version f this plant known as a Giant Sensitive plant that is described to be more of a pest than an oddity. It spreads quickly causing tangles and difficult travel. It is actually quarantined in some parts of the world. The Philippines, South East Asia and Brazil state this is a "serious weed" that could invade property and reduce it's value if not attended to.
The plant is beautiful and bushy when open. It does have prickly little thorns on the stems so be wary of that. In Mid Summer it blooms a purple blossom something like a clover. The blooms do not last very long. This can be borught in for the winter if you have a sunny indoor location. I encourage you and your family to get sensitive plant to have of your own. You can start you own tradition!
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