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Sensitive Plant

Sensitive Plant
One of the amazing characteristics of plant is response to stimuli, which is found in only few species. One of them is 'Mimosa pudica' or sensitive plant. Find out more about the uses and characteristic of this touch me not plant in the following write-up.
Niharika Arya
Plants have life. They breathe, prepare food, grow and reproduce. There is one more characteristic of plants which can be clearly seen in some species and that is response to stimuli. This characteristic is very prominent observed in a plant called sensitive plant. This plant is famous for its response to touch and has the tendency to close its leaves when someone touches it. This characteristic has given it many names like humble plant, shameful plant, touch me not, sleeping grass etc. So, let's find out some more interesting facts and characteristic of this unique plant.

Classification and Description

Scientific Name: Mimosa pudica

Family: Leguminosae

Common Name: Humble Plant, Shameful Plant, Touch Me Not, Sleeping Grass, Tickle-Me Plant

Distribution: It originated in Brazil but has now spread to most of the states of America, Africa, Asia and the Gulf.

Description: Mimosa Pudica is among the 300 species found under mimosa, which belong to the Leguminosae family. It has fern like leaves and the stem is approximately 5cms long. They are small shrubs and are also considered as weeds. The leaflets of Mimosa Pudica close in a few of its sections if touched or disturbed. They then reopen after some minutes. They have tiny purplish flowers which contain 3 to 4 seeds. It grows in a comparatively low temperature but it should not go below 16 ºC. The most appropriate temperature for this plant is between 16 ºC and 29 ºC.

This species can cause troubles too. Its weedy characteristic can affect the crop of coffee, bananas, soybeans, papaya, corn, coconuts, tomatoes, cotton, sugarcane, etc. So if you are planning to grow it, then keep it away from the plants mentioned as it can be dangerous for them.

Mysterious Aspect of Mimosa Pudica: Sensitive or humble plant has been found with two types of movements or responses. They are Nyctinastic movements and Seismonastic movements. Nyctinastic movements is associated with its ability to close the leaves in the evening till the sunrise and Seismonastic movements is related to the sense of touch. Once the leaves are touched or shaken or are even slightly warmed they will close their leaves immediately and will reopen it after sometime.

There have been many researches conducted with this remarkable response of the plant but till now there are no concrete evidences. Some say it takes place to save the plant from the herbivorous and some think that they close their leaves to protect themselves from intense sunlight, which in turn saves water and environmental stress.

How to Grow

It is quite easy to grow Mimosa Pudica. Following are some of the steps which will help you to grow this mysterious plant.
  • Soak the seeds of humble plant in warm water overnight so that it can sprout faster.
  • Now take a small pot with soil and manure. Put the seed 1/8 inch deep and cover the pot with a clear plastic. This will give them appropriate moisture and humidity to grow.
  • Remove the plastic as soon as you find your humble plant growing.
  • Now remove the plant from the small pot and place it in a bigger pot or in the ground.
  • The plant should get appropriate sunlight and water it to prevent the soil from drying.
  • Care should be taken regularly. Do not pour excess water as it may result in the decay of the plant.
  • The leaves may not respond or close when the plant is small but once it gains strength it will start responding to touch.

Mimosa Pudica has many uses, following are some of them.
  • It is widely used as an ornamental plant in almost all the parts of the world because of its curious behavior.
  • Mimosa plant is said to have an alkaloid known as mimosine, which is used for anti-proliferative and apoptotic effects.
  • Extract of the roots of this plant helps in the nutrilization of the venom of monocled cobra.
  • As it belongs to the Leguminosae family, nitrogen fixing bacteria attach to the root nodules of this plant, helps in the process of nitrogen fixation.
Take proper care if you have one at your place. Keep the positive and negative aspects of this plant in mind and enjoys its magic.
Wild sensitive plant closeup
Mimosa Pudica (Shameplant) Blossoming
Small mimosa plants
Mimosa pudica