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The Sensitive Plant moves when touched

Updated on January 14, 2013

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.

Sensitive Plant

Sensitive Plant flowers
Sensitive Plant flowers
Sensitive Plant (Mimosa pudica)
Sensitive Plant (Mimosa pudica)

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.

Mimosa Pudica - The Sensitive Plant


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    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thanks for your comments, kidsgardner and Pamela!

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Dapples 

      6 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      Makes me wonder if every plant reacts to our touch, but we just don't see the movement. Very interesting.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      My sixth grade teacher gave me a TickleMe Plant. Now I am a teacher and using the TickleMe Plant Classroom kit, every child takes home their own Pet TickleMe Plant. Love the smiles this plant products- great hub!

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you too, Moonlake!

    • moonlake profile image


      7 years ago from America

      I always liked this plant I use to have them years ago. Good hub.

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you!

    • shayana mack profile image

      shayana mack 

      7 years ago

      nice video and such a great hub .

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Yes the now famous TickleMe Plant can easily be grown indoors year round or as a party favor.

      The TickleMe Plant became famous when it was shown on CSI NY and then on the Today's Show

      See the video here, grow your own and get the TickleMe Plant Book

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you, Teddletonmr!

    • Teddletonmr profile image

      Mike Teddleton 

      8 years ago from Midwest USA

      Outstanding hub, thanks for sharing. The video is cool as well. hub up and useful.

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you, KKalmes!

    • KKalmes profile image


      8 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

      Hello Bard, the beauty of nature never ceases to amaze those who watch it, listen to it and revel in its beauty.

      Thank you for being our witness and sharing your love of nature with us.

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      I am happy to hear it!

    • HappyHer profile image

      Tracy Morrow 

      8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      I've always loved these plants and never knew how sensitive they were. Now I love them more! Thank you.

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Hello Earth Angel! Thank you for your comments!

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 

      8 years ago

      Good Morning Handsome!!

      We call them 'Prayer Plants' here in California!! I had the sound off and it was hard for me to watch that guy beating the plant so harshly! Glad it came back each time!!

      Thanks for the GREAT reminder!! I think one on my altar would be a welcome addition!!

      Blessings always, Earth Angel!!

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you, Nellieanna and EM Smith!

    • E M Smith profile image

      E M Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      We had one of these years ago, it fascinated me.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      8 years ago from TEXAS

      I loved that - the little video with the sound effects was cute. I was thinking how plants "move" toward the sunlight and some respond to times of day with reactions. I wonder what kind of "nervous systems" they have. To respond to a stimulus, it would seem they'd have to have some sort of responders, which would be similar to nerves. I'm sure those who study these things would be amused that I don't know - but I don't and still I'm wondering. (so what is Google for, self asks self?) haha. Anyway - thanks for a pleasant hub!

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you, Varenya! It is easy to grow and seeds are readily available as you can see from the ads. Get some by searching online!

    • Varenya profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow, I have heard about this plant, but now I want one, it's too nice and pretty!!! Thanks for sharing!

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thanks, Darlene! That's 13 done so should finish easily!

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      8 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Ha how fun, what a crazy plant, reminds of one of my X husbands, LOL, Thanks for sharing this amazing plant with us, um maybe we can smoke it.....great hub and keep them coming three weeks to go...

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you for posting, SomewayOuttaHere!

    • SomewayOuttaHere profile image


      8 years ago from TheGreatGigInTheSky

      that was great!...i recall now...the prayer plant and how extremely sensitive it is...

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Get yourself some seeds! They are cheap and easy to grow!

    • justom profile image


      8 years ago from 41042

      Very cool, I've never heard of this plant and now I want one. Excellent hub man, Peace!!

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thanks for posting, Nicomp!

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      It's an amazing creature. Thanks for the great write-up.

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you, Teresa, for such a very prompt response to my hub!

    • Teresa Schultz profile image

      Teresa Schultz 

      8 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      That's an interesting hub and an interesting little plant indeed! I love the other name for the plant being Shame Plant, as when I first started reading the title and hub, I was thinking "Shame, what a sweet little sensitive plant!"


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