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Mimosa Plant (Mimosa pudica): How It Moves its Leaves

Updated on November 11, 2014

Mimosa Plant Motor Movements

Source

The Mimosa Plant

The Mimosa plant (Mimosa pudica) also known as “touch-me-not” means “mimicking shy”. This name derived from Greek and Latin came about because of the plants curious motor movements. Far more interesting than the Venus flytrap, the Mimosa promptly closes its leaves if it is touched or shaken. If the touch is strong enough the entire plant ends up folding its leaves together leaving the Mimosa almost unrecognizable potentially providing safety from foragers.

Why Does The Plant Move?

It is thought that the Mimosa plant moves as a defense mechanism. For example, it would be beneficial for the Mimosa to close its leaves if a caterpillar climbed on it. Instead of eating the leaves, the caterpillar might be stuck inside the leaf, or it might fall off the plant. Closing the leaves also makes the plant look less appetizing to passing herbivores and prevents water loss at night.

Mimosa flowers

Flowering Mimosa plant
Flowering Mimosa plant | Source

How Does The Mimosa Move?

There are two cases that cause the Mimosa to close its leaves. Do not imagine that the plant has a central nervous system, neurons and all, that allow it to sense when it is in danger. Nyctonastic movements, which are reactions that happen in absence of light, cause the Mimosa to close its leaves at night.

Chemical responses also enable the Mimosa plant to close its leaves when it is touched. Specialized tissue moves potassium, K+, ions from one cell to another and a pressure response builds that squeezes the plant shut. This pressure is called Turgor pressure and it can happen because Mimosas and all plants have cell walls which are rigid enough that they prevent the cell from blowing up when it swells, but flexible enough to allow it to move just enough for it to be able to shut its leaves.

Mimosa pudica (many seeds)

How long does the Mimosa stay closed?

At night, the entire plant closes its leaves. During the daytime the Mimosa’s leaves remain open unless there is a stimulus. The leaves reopen a few minutes after the stimulus is gone.

Seedling Mimosa Plant
Seedling Mimosa Plant | Source

Where Is The Mimosa Found?

The species is native to South America and Central America, but can readily be purchased at Garden Shops.

Mimosa Pudica flower
Mimosa Pudica flower | Source

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    • profile image

      Yoohoo 16 months ago

      Thanks for the information!Its really helpful for me.Thank you! :)

    • profile image

      surendra mohan sharma 2 years ago

      I have grown this plant in my room b/c it responds unlike many human beings. I play with it. I find it a good companion in my old age loneliness.

    • profile image

      michde taza 2 years ago

      makahiya plant is beautiful plant andvery good at finding

    • Londonlady profile image
      Author

      Laura Writes 3 years ago

      Thank you, glad you enjoyed it

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 3 years ago from Germany

      Very informative hub. Thanks for sharing your knowledge about the touch me not flower. Have a lovely weekend!

    • KerryAnita profile image

      KerryAnita 4 years ago from Satellite Beach, Florida

      Fascinating! What a cool plant, nature is awesome!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Londonlady, very good explanation about the 'touch me not' plant. I remember when I was in school we were learnt about these plants that moved.

      Hydra, a simple aquatic animal is locomotory. It literally moves by somersaulting when hunting for food. It can also move by amoeboid motion of its base or even floating by detaching itself totally from the base.

      Nature always amazes me.

      Voted up and interesting.

    • Plantastic profile image

      Plantastic 5 years ago

      Great hub ..just go to http://www.mimosaseeds.com to grow your own indoors. And to get the book that contains dozens of photos and how to care for the plant year round.

    • Londonlady profile image
      Author

      Laura Writes 5 years ago

      They're pretty cool. I've only recently heard of them but they were fascinating enough to make me write this. Thanks for the comment Brupie.

    • Brupie profile image

      Brupie 5 years ago

      Thanks for the explanation. I was always curious how they moved. I had one of these plants when I was a child, but haven't seen one for ages.