The Sensitive Plant moves when touched
So sensitive it moves if touched
The Sensitive Plant (Mimosa pudica) is a real novelty that cannot fail to fascinate anyone who sees it in action because this plant moves quickly if touched.
It is very aptly named and the slightest touch to its leaves will cause them to fold up or move away. The Sensitive Plant has pretty pinnate leaves with many little leaflets carried on a stem and all of these will close if the the plant is disturbed enough.
The whole leaf and the stalk it is on can then move to a different position and hang down from the main stem.
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Other names include Shame Plant
In Latin the second part of the Sensitive Plant's botanical name pudica means "shy," "bashful" or "retiring." And so it is because it responds to the gentlest of movement against it.
The Sensitive Plant has earned many other names because of its strange behaviour. It is also called the Shame Plant, the Humble Plant, and Touch-me-not. Sleeping Grass is another moniker for this unusual plant and describes its behaviour. It also closes up its leaves at night so looks as if it really does go to sleep.
The Sensitive Plant comes from South and Central America but now grows in many other subtropical and tropical areas of the world and has actually become regarded as an invasive weed in some places it is found.
The Sensitive Plant is a member of the Leguminosae or Fabaceae , which is the family that includes the peas and beans and other types of plants that bear pods full of seeds.
In keeping with the characteristics of the family it belongs to the Sensitive Plant carries a number of flattened and hard dry seeds in little pods. If planted they germinate better if soaked for a day in water to soften the seed coating.
Before the seed pods are produced though the Sensitive Plant bears a large number of pretty little ball-like flowers of a delicate pale-purple shade.
These flowers are covered in tiny stamens and air pollinated by the wind or insects.
It is thought that the Sensitive Plant evolved the unusual habit of moving its leaves as a response to danger. It could possibly avoid being eaten by a slow-moving insect, slug or snail, or perhaps a would-be predator would be alarmed by seeing a plant that could move?
Besides having the ability to respond to touch and move its leaves away, the Sensitive Plant's stems are covered in tiny prickles as another means of defence.
Often it is not just the leaf that has been touched that will move but others on the plant also respond. It looks as if a shock-wave has gone throughout the plant.
The Sensitive Plant also moves away if heat is applied or motion in the air around it.
It develops the ability to move very early on and a tiny germinated seedling will exhibit movement in the first proper leaf it forms.
The Sensitive Plant grows as a shrub that can reach as much as 5ft in height but can also grow in a sprawling form.
There are many other species of plant that are known as "Mimosas" and they may have very similar foliage and flowers but none are able to show the remarkable behaviour exhibited by the Sensitive Plant.
Because of its pretty appearance and great novelty value the Sensitive Plant is often grown as a pot or indoor plant in many parts of the world today.
Copyright © 2010 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.