Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sensitive plant (Mimosa pudica)

One of the most entertaining plants to own is Mimosa pudica. Whenever the leaves are disturbed, they quickly fold up. Here's a video that shows more than words can describe.
The leaves unfold again after only a few minutes.
Plants have a spreading habit, and make a thick groundcover if allowed to spread. They grow about 1.5 feet tall and several feet wide. Stems will root as they creep along the ground and young plants will spring up from fallen seed. The plant can become invasive in warm climates.
Although the foliage has a soft, ferny texture, the stems and petioles have numerous small, prickly thorns that would be hazardous to bare feet.
In late summer through fall, the plants are covered with lavender-pink flowers.
Mimosa pudica is native to tropical America, but has become naturalized throughout warm regions of the world.
Plants prefer full sun to part shade and established plants are very drought-tolerant. They can be grown as annuals anywhere, or as perennials in areas that receive only brief freezes.

One theory about why Mimosa pudica evolved its sensitivity is that it was a way to avoid being eaten by herbivores. Grazing animals would brush by the plant and, after all the leaves folded, it would appear there was nothing there to eat, so the animals would move on to more lush and leafy plants.

Buy seeds of this plant!


Mark and Gaz said...

They are fun plants indeed. As a kid I enjoyed playing with them.

Andrea said...

That thorny species is a farmer's nightmare in this part of the world. It is very invasive, persistent, grow fast and very difficult to eradicate. We dont use herbicides here, and labor getting them out is expensive, so we just allow them in our property, which prevent us from entering the area. If only they can be burned here, we will do that. It shouldn't have been introduced here at all, we despice that terribly, hahaha. But one's trash is really another's treasure!

AaronVFT said...

These are weeds here, but they are interesting anyway. I enjoyed kicking and disturbing these plants when I was younger.

pontos said...

Bellissime queste piante, peccato che non posso coltivarle qui a causa del freddo.



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