Sensitive plant – Mimosa pudica.
This plant, found growing in southern Italy, actually moves. It’s difficult to resist gently touching the leaves and watching them fold up in front of your very eyes.
It’s thought the plant does this to look unappetising by ‘playing dead’ to protect itself from grazing animals. The leaves recover and perk up after about an hour. Try not to prod it too much!
With a profusion of pale pink pom-pom shaped flowers, it is grown purely as an ornamental. Its Latin name, pudica, means ‘shy, bashful or shrinking’.
Caution: the stem has sharp thorns and the plant is toxic in large quantities.
Annual/perennial (depending on location). Sow at any time of year after soaking seed in warm water for a couple of hours.
Put two or three seeds in a small pot of slightly damp seed compost, cover with clear plastic and place in a warm, bright place. Remove the plastic after germination.
Grow indoors or outside in summer and protect from the cold in winter.
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