Mimosa pudica is commonly called the sensitive plant. The name Mimosa comes from the Greek mimos (to mimic) because when touched, the plant ‘mimics’ animals that shrink away from being touched. The sensitivity of the leaves is a protection against grazing animals; the plant has the capability of feeling the animal approaching through air movement or vibration. Tapping the pot or touching the leaves will have the same effect; they will close up. Once the leaves have folded up, animals ignore them, not just grazing animals, but, for instance, grasshoppers interpret the closing of the leaves as a trap shutting them in and they will jump away. The warmer it is, the quicker the reaction of the leaves. The leaves fold upwards, contrary to those of Biophytum, which close downwards.
The plant originates from South-America, but has now spread over most of the world to all parts where there is no frost and sufficient water. It can be seen growing on the side of the road where it is will stay shorter than in other habitats, because of poor soil conditions. The plant has become a weed in some countries, esp. in Australia, because it does not have any natural (grazing) animals there.
It is a very easy plant to grow from seed; the seed needs to be soaked in water for 24 hours before sowing and then it can be sown under plastic. In about a week or so, germination takes place. To get a nice bushy plant, it is better to sow a few seeds in a plants rather than just one. The plant will flower in the first year producing pink flowers. Rubbing the flowers together, will pollinate them and in this way you can produce your own seed. Although the plant is a perennial, it is normally grown as an annual, because it will grow straggly and untidy if left to grow on. The plant can be grown in full sun without any problem, but do not let it dry out, because once it had dried out, it will not recover again.
It is an ideal plant for children to play with. After closing up, the leaves will reopen after about a quarter of an hour in good weather. The plant suffers no harm being played with in this way, unlike the Venus flytrap which will be killed if forced to close too often.

Mimosa pudica

Mimosa pudica leaves

Mimosa pudica

Mimosa pudica flower and closed-up leaf

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