The Legend Of Makahiya (Touch-me-not Plant)

Touch-me-not! Known in the Philippines as makahiya.
Touch-me-not! Known in the Philippines as makahiya. | Source

We went visited my uncle last Sunday since his house is really close to the parish where we went last Sunday for the annual parish fiesta. As expected uncle was in his backyard, tending his vegetable garden, his love and hobby. Bittermelons, eggplants, tomatoes, and the papait plant in their containers as always are present in his backyard. His papaya tree is now flowering and has young fruits. But this year, he had successfully germinated some touch-me-not, or what we call as makahiya in the Philippines.

The makahiya is considered as a weed in the Philippines. Seeing the pots of touch-me-not gowing in uncle's pot, draws a smile on me and mom's face. I had memories of getting pricked as a kid while I walk aimlessly on the fields in the province of Zambales. They'd be growing on the path heading to the vegetable garden, or on that empty lot with hays and dead trees where mushrooms grow abundantly and my parents would dig them up. I also believed they had helped me hold onto my mom's womb as mom had taken a tea made from its root, told by the elderly to avoid more miscarriages.

I feel lucky to be familiar with, with this sensitive plant as I know others hadn't even seen such an unusual plant. A shy plant indeed as its Tagalog name makahiya suggest. But how did this plant earned its name?

Touch-Me-Not Legend

A long time ago, there was a young girl named Maria who was twelve years old. She's from a wealthy family and her parents loves her so much.

Maria, at her young age was a very responsible and obedient child. She obeys her parents, she's diligent and kind too that's why people likes her and she gets along with anyone who would approach her and speak to her. But Maria has a distinct character that is very different from the one's mentioned. She is very bashful.

Talking to people makes Maria feel uncomfortable. To avoid being seen or being in a crowd, she would rather stay at home and locked herself in her room.

Maria loves flowers, and she has a flower garden. There she grows all kinds of beautiful flowers she had patiently tended herself with love. Tending her garden gives Maria contentment and happiness. She can be herself in her garden, not having to worry about being around with people. The town people knows about Maria's garden. Who wouldn't notice it? Healthy, beautiful flowering plants grows on the young girl's garden.

One day, a news spread in their town about a group of bandit that had raided the neighboring towns. The people was killed with their moolahs taken away by the bandits.

The following day it wasn't a surprise when the bandits came to their town. Dondong, Maria's father saw the approaching bandits and had a quick thinking of hiding their daughter Maria in the garden.

Meanwhile, Dondong's wife, Iska, decided to stay inside their home and found a spot to hide while waiting for her husband Dondong to come back. She was so scared as she hears the bandits forcefully trying to open the door. All she could do at that moment is to utter a prayer as she doesn't know what could happen at those very moment.

"My God please, please keep our daughter safe. Keep her hidden from those bandits," Maria's mother solemnly prayed in her hiding spot. Minutes later, Dondong came back from the garden while the bandits are banging their front door.

Their door broke open and few bandits came in. One of the bandits hit Dondong in the head which caused Maria's father to loss consciousness. Iska tried to ran away but before she could even reach for the door, the same bandit hit her on the head. The bad guys explored their home and took all their goods, money, and jewelries they could find. They also looked for the young girl but they couldn't find her. So they decided to leave and continue on robbing the neighborhood before they would get on the next town and do the same thing.

The bandits were already gone when the couple finally gained their consciousness. They hurriedly went on the garden to check on their daughter but there's no Maria waiting for them. They keep on looking. They went and looked on each corner of the garden, on every shrubs where Maria could hide but they cannot find her. Did the bandit found her and took her away?

"My daughter! They took away my daughter!" Iska said as she hysterically cried to her husband.

Suddenly, Dondong felt he got pricked on the feet. He probably had stepped into something. He gasped as he saw a small, strange plant that is swiftly closing its tiny leaves. This is his first time to see a plant like this. Dondong knelt and looked at the plant closely. His wife did the same thing.

After a very long time of looking at the now completely closed leaves of the plant, the couple believed that it was their daughter Maria. God had transformed their daughter into a plant in order to save her from the bandits. The couple couldn't help but cry and every tears that they shed on the strange plant becomes a small, round, rosy colored flower.

Iska and Dondong took cared of the strange plant that they found in Maria's garden since that day. They both strongly believed it was indeed Maria.

Why is that?

The plant seems like it is very shy to the world around it. It will close its tiny leaves whenever they touch it or it was shaken, Maria's distinct character, bashfulness.

The strange plant got its own name from Dondong and Iska, they had named the plant makahiya, from the word "hiya," the Filipino word for bashfulness.

Up for a quiz?

Did you know?

The Filipino word for this bashful plant is makahiya.

= Makahiya is known into other names as:

* sensitive plant

* touch-me-not

* chuimui

* sleeping grass

* ant-plant

= Touch-me-not is grown for its curiosity value. Its leaves, after folding inward will droop and re-open minutes later.

= It is also interesting that this sensitive plant will close its leaves at dark and will open again the next day.

Young sensitive plants growing in a pot.
Young sensitive plants growing in a pot. | Source

The legend was translated into English from takdangaralin website.

A flower of the sensitive plant (mimosa pudica)
A flower of the sensitive plant (mimosa pudica) | Source

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Comments 9 comments

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

What a lovely story, precy, about this interesting 'bashful' plant. Its flower is beautiful.


agusfanani profile image

agusfanani 3 years ago from Indonesia

Makahiya, what a beautiful name. Here we call it a shy princess (Mimosa pudica). The story behind the legend is very interesting too.


precy anza profile image

precy anza 3 years ago from San Diego Author

Thanks Drbj. I agree it has a beautiful flower :) Those flowers always draws me near this bashful plant.


precy anza profile image

precy anza 3 years ago from San Diego Author

@ Agusfanani:

Shy princess is a beautiful name as well, and it suits the plant too, and the legend :)


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

Thanks for the great legend, precy anza, as well as the video showing how the touch-me-not closes. This was wonderful.


precy anza profile image

precy anza 3 years ago from San Diego Author

And thank you for stopping by Avian :) Glad you liked it. It was really entertaining watching the leaves close and opens after few minutes.


ella joy tambalo 2 years ago

makahiya blah blah.......


erica mae 2 years ago

it's a good story


ashley m. hernadez 17 months ago

the legend of makahiya is so beautiful.

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