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Mimosa pudica with leaves open
Mimosa pudica seedling
Mimosa pudica seeds
Mimosa pudica (Sensitive Plant) (pudica = shy), is a creeping annual or perennial herb often grown for its curiosity value: the compound leaves fold inward and droop when touched or shaken, re-opening within minutes. The species is native to South America and Central America, but is now a pantropical weed.

Description

The stem is erect in young plants, but becomes creeping or trailing with age. The stem is slender, branching, and sparsely to densely prickly, growing to a length of 1.5 m (5 ft). The leaves of the mimosa pudica are compound leaves.The leaves are bipinnately compound, with one or two pinnae pairs, and 10-26 leaflets per pinna. The petioles are also prickly. Pedunculate (stalked) pale pink or purple flower heads arise from the leaf axils. The globose to ovoid heads are 8–10 mm in diameter (excluding the stamens). On close examination, it is seen that the floret petals are red in their upper part and the filaments are pink to lavender. The fruit consists of clusters of 2-8 pods from 1–2 cm long each, these prickly on the margins. The pods break into 2-5 segments and contain pale brown seeds some 2.5 mm long. The flowers are pollinated by the wind and insects. The seeds have hard seed coats which restricts germination.

Plant movement

Mimosa pudica is well known for its rapid plant movement.
Mimosa pudica with leaves closed
Like a number of other plant species, it undergoes changes in leaf orientation termed "sleep" or nyctinastic movement. The foliage closes during darkness and reopens in light.

The leaves also close under various other stimuli, such as touching,warming, blowing, or shaking. These types of movements have been termed seismonastic movements. The movement occurs when specific regions of cells lose turgor pressure, which is the force that is applied onto the cell wall by water within the cell vacuoles and other cell contents. When the plant is disturbed, specific regions on the stems are stimulated to release chemicals which force water out of the cell vacuoles and the water diffuses out of the cells, producing a loss of cell pressure and cell collapse; this differential turgidity between different regions of cells results in the closing of the leaflets and the collapse of the leaf petiole. This characteristic is quite common within the Mimosaceae family. The stimulus can also be transmitted to neighboring leaves. It is not known exactly why Mimosa pudica evolved this trait, but many scientists think that the plant uses its ability to shrink as a defense from predators. Animals may be afraid of such a fast moving plant and would rather go and eat a less active one.

Taxonomy and nomenclature

Mimosa pudica was first formally described by Carl Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753. The species epithet, pudica, is Latin for "bashful" or "shrinking", alluding to its shrinking reaction to contact.

Common names

The species is known by numerous common names including
  • sensitive plant
  • humble plant
  • shameful plant
  • sleeping grass
  • touch-me-not


The Chinese name for this plant ( ) translates to "shyness grass". Its Sinhala name is Nidikumba, where 'nidi' means 'sleep'. Its Tamil name is Thottal Sinungi, where 'Thottal' means 'touched' and 'Sinungi' means 'little cry'. Other non-English common names include Makahiya (Philippines, with maka- meaning "quite" or "tendency to be", and -hiya meaning "shy", or "shyness") , Mori Vivi (West Indies), and mate-loi (false death) (Tongamarker). In Urdu it is known as CHui-Mui. In Bengali, this is known as 'Lojjaboti', the shy virgin. In Indonesiamarker, it is known as Putri Malu (Shy Princess).

Distribution

Mimosa pudica is native to South America and Central America. It has been introduced to many other regions and is regarded as an invasive species in Tanzania, South Asia and South East Asia and many Pacific Islands. It is regarded as invasive in parts of Australia and is a declared weed in the Northern Territorymarker, and Western Australiamarker although not naturalized there. Control is recommended in Queenslandmarker. It has also been introduced to Nigeriamarker, Seychellesmarker, Mauritiusmarker and East Asia but is not regarded as invasive in those places. It also grows in parts of Floridamarker, Alabamamarker and Louisianamarker, in the United States of Americamarker.

Agricultural impacts



The species can be a troublesome weed in tropical crops, particularly when fields are hand cultivated. Crops it tends to affect are corn, coconuts, tomatoes, cotton, coffee, bananas, soybeans, papaya, and sugar cane. Dry thickets may become a fire hazard. In some cases it has become a forage plant although the variety in Hawaiimarker is reported to be toxic to livestock.

Mimosa pudica can form root nodules that are inhabitable by nitrogen fixing bacteria. The bacteria are able to convert atmospheric nitrogen, which plants can not use, into a form that plants can use. This trait is common among plants in the Fabaceae family.

Cultivation

In cultivation, this plant is most often grown as an indoor annual, but is also grown for groundcover. Propagation is generally by seed.

See also



References

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External links




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