Sensitive Plant (Mimosa pudica)
Category: Deciduous Trees
This plant has many names all of which are derived from its sensitiveness. It can be called the sleepy plant or touch me not. In Latin where its scientific name is derived from, it is called mimosa pudica meaning a mimic shy or bashful plant. It is usually grown for its curiosity value. It is native to Central and South America.
In its youthful stage, the plant is usually erect but as it ages, it starts creeping. It has a slender stem and a lot of branching making it to grow to a length of about 1.5m. Its leaves are bipinnately compound in nature.
Mimosa pudica has a rapid style of movement. It undergoes some changes in leaf orientation known as nyctinastic or sleep movement. When in darkness, the plant leaves close and later re-open when the plant is exposed to light. There are various stimuli that make the leaf close. Some of these stimuli include warming, touching, shaking or blowing.
The Sensitive Plant can be traced to Central America and South America regions. From there, it spread to other areas such Tanzania in Africa, South East Asia, South Asia and Pacific Islands. While in some areas it is considered as a research plant, some regions such as Northern Australia regard it as a weed.
The Effect of the Sensitive Plant on Agriculture
Research has shown that this plant can be troublesome to tropical crops in areas where hand cultivation is used. Some of the crops susceptible to this weed include coconuts, cotton, bananas, tomatoes and coffee.
Mimosa pudica contains mimosine which is a highly toxic acid. The extracts from the sensitive plant have also been found to have the capacity to immobilize the larvae of Strongyloides stercoralis in less than 60 minutes. Aqueous root extracts also reveal neutralizing effects on the lethargic cobra venom.