I am very passionate about studying plants and flowers. I love to garden in my free time.
Mimosa Pudica, the Touch-Me-Not Plants
The touch-sensitive plants known as mimosa pudica have small and beautiful pink flowers. The leaves of this very small plant fold up from gentle touch and remain like that for few minutes. If you touch the plant stems, the plant itself will look like it has slept, because it will fold all the leaves and even bend and collapse a little. The leaves also remain folded after sunset and they actually look like they are sleeping at night.
Mimosa Pudica plants are sensitive to physical parameters like touch, temperature, and light, which means the plants fold and shrink their leaves and even look like they are dead when someone touches them or a sudden variation in temperature or light. This also explains why the leaves of the plants fold after sunset. However, it appears that they react more to touch in comparison to variations in temperature or light.
The "touch-me-not plants" used to grow like weeds around my home garden once, and we didn't care because we loved the small beautiful flowers. When I was a child, I was actually very fond of this plant, mainly because I was very curious to see them folding their leaves when I touched them. I have often felt that, when I bring my hand near to a leaf, it would start shrinking even before I touched it. Sometimes, even the nearby leaves also shrunk by themselves.
This plant has many other nicknames, including me "tickle me", "sensitive plant", "sleeping plant", "shy plant", "humble plant", "chuimui", and "ant plant".
The name "touch-me-not" is also used for another species, but here we are specifically discussing the species mimosa pudica.
Why Should You Grow Mimosa Pudica Plants in Your Garden?
Growing the mimosa pudica plants in your garden has both positive and negative outcomes. These plants propagate quite fast, so you need to control the propagation. If not, they may affect the growth of certain plants and crops nearby.
The small plants that grow near the ground will have thorns in them. So if you are walking in your garden without slippers, you may hurt your feet. It is not something to worry about, as the cut will be really small. Actually, I have cut my feet many times in this way when I was small.
If you are growing them indoors or inside pots in your garden, you don't have to worry about the plants' propagation and their thorns.
You might wonder why you have to grow this plant in your garden if they grow like weeds and become quite invasive, causing other plants problems.
Here is an important reason why you should grow them in your garden in spite of this.
The reason for growing mimosa pudica plants is that once they start flowering, you can create containers full of beautiful and soft pink flowers and they can look great in even very small gardens.
Also, if you have kids I am sure they would enjoy the "touch-me-not" characteristic of this plant, which would add to their childhood curiosity and fun. Most people actually grow them not just for their flowers, but also out of curiosity. Just make sure you grow them in containers!
You can see the close-up photos of the mimosa pudica flowers and leaves here.
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Do They Have Medicinal Uses?
The plants are said to have some medicinal uses despite the fact that they have some toxicity and so they are not edible for consumption. The leaves, flowers and roots have medicinal uses, especially for treatments related to skin and inflammations. The home treatments for inflammations and several skin problems include the grinding of leaves, flowers and the roots to a paste and applying it on the affected area. The plant is also said to be effective against cobra venom and headaches from migraines.
However, these traditional treatments are not scientifically proven and so if you want to try it out, there should be proper guidance and understanding. I have heard a lot about the medicinal use of this plant while I was growing up, but frankly, I have no experience using them even once.
The medicinal uses of mimosa pudica may be a subject with scopes for more studies.
Growing the Mimosa Pudica
Mimosa pudica plants are rather easy to grow as they don't require much care.
The plants are grown from seeds, which can be sown to a container of medium size. You can use a knife to gently nick the seeds to make the germination process faster. Just make sure that you nick the seeds gently without damaging them. Alternatively, you can also soak the seeds in water for about 24 hours.
The soil in the pot should be well-drained and watered, but it should not become soggy. Water the plants regularly once the seeds germinate—just make sure watering does not make the soil soggy.
Place the pots where they can get good sun exposure; if they are kept indoors you can use artificial light or just use window light.
The ideal temperature suitable for the growth of these plants is 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, but they can manage on slightly colder conditions too. You can move the plants indoors during wintertime and also if the outdoor temperatures become too cold or hot.
Mimosa pudica plants are shrubs that usually reach about 30 to 40 cm in height, but some bigger plants can also reach up to 60cm. They are perennials.
The Science Behind Mimosa Pudica
It is believed that the physical reactions the plants show in response to the external factors are actually an attempt to protect themselves from outside dangers. The many experiments done on the mimosa pudica plants have led to the conclusion that they have a signalling system within their bodies that helps them to respond to external triggers.
And the most amazing finding is that the plant develops learned behaviours on the continuous application of external triggers. In one experiment, scientists sprinkled water over the mimosa pudica plants for several times. The plants responded for the first few times by folding the leaves and shrinking, but they stopped doing so after the experiment was repeated for few more times. This led to the conclusion that the plant develops learned behaviours. The interesting thing is that the plants that underwent the experiment didn't respond to the sprinkling of water, even when the test was repeated after a gap of one month.
In short words, it is found that if the plants learn that the external trigger is not dangerous to them in any way, they stop responding to the particular trigger.
Maybe they have a really great signalling system which gives good memory and intelligence to the plants!
Watch the Movements of the Plant Here!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Sheila Agona on September 28, 2019:
We have these plants nearly everywhere growing at road sides back yards .
I just started to boil leaves and drink.
Louise Childs on April 27, 2019:
I live in Florida and we have them growing in trees. Here they are called the resarection plant. The are covering branches in live oak trees
Jen on August 04, 2018:
Just search TickleMe Plant on amazon to grow your own indoors in one of the TIckleMe Plant kits. It is amazing.
Elaine on July 23, 2018:
How can I safely get rid of them. They have completely taken over my yard.
Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on December 09, 2014:
Wow! Very interesting! We have a type of mimosa growing wild here, but I did not know these facts. It is considered an invasive species. Thanks for sharing this.
VioletteRose (author) from Atlanta on September 22, 2014:
Thank you all for stopping by :) I really appreciate all the feedback on my hub about the lovely mimosa pudica plant!
Nithya Venkat from Dubai on September 21, 2014:
Mimisa pudica are mesmerizing to watch as they close their leaves. Great hub and information about them.
FlourishAnyway from USA on September 20, 2014:
This strikes a bell but I didn't recall any key facts. I learned so much from your hub and enjoyed your description and the description of the study. That is quite some plant. Voted up and so interesting! Sharing too.
Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on September 20, 2014:
I have not heard about this variety but I love Mimosa trees. Your details on growing this as a houseplant make it sound very easy and I might try that. Voted up and interesting.
kidsgardner on September 19, 2014:
Our entire school grows TickleMe Plants and our kids and parents love them. Thanks for the article, we will include it with the classroom kits we buy and give to each teacher.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 19, 2014:
I have the mimosa growing on the outside of our property and it does have a lovely flower. A beautiful hub about a unique tree.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 18, 2014:
This is an enjoyable hub. I love Mimosa pudica. It's such an interesting plant!
hawaiihibou on September 18, 2014:
I've seen this plant is a small area in front of Salt Lake Public Library and we call it locally sleeping grass. I like it for as a child like you I was fascinated that a plant closes up when you touch it-I'd put my footwear near it and it closes or goes to sleep like mode. Thanks for a very interesting hub!