Mimosas All Around!

Mimosa pudica, on view in the Botanical Center.

Mimosa pudica, one of the sensitive plants on view at the Info Desk in The Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory for Botanical Science.

Mimosas all around! No, not the one you drink! The Mimosa I’m talking about is Mimosa pudica, “The Sensitive Plant” that is growing in The Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory for Botanical Science. Some may refer to this plant as “The Humble Plant” or even as “The Shame Plant” because of its very unique characteristic! With Mimosa meaning “mimic” and “pudica” meaning “shrinking,” it becomes a very fitting name for a plant that enjoys recoiling and folding its leaves when it feels the slightest of touch (see the video clip below).

Many scientists do not know for sure why this plant reacts this way but most believe it is due to a defensive mechanism it developed over time against bugs. If any predators attempt to land on it, the plant quickly deters them by shrinking its leaves. A similar response occurs with a lack of sunlight or a drop in temperature. It usually takes about five to 10 minutes for the leaves to reopen and return to their normal state.

Mimosa pudica can be found easily in Asia, the Americas, and even Africa because of its high resistance to bugs. If you are interested in seeing this plant, make sure to visit The Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory for Botanical Science. At the Info Desk, you will find many sensitive plants that you can gently touch to see how they react.

Brandon Tam is The Huntington’s orchid specialist.

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