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Sensitive plant leaves and flowers

Sensitive plant

The sensitive plant can move! Its leaves fold up at night and also when touched. It’s thought the plant does this to look unappetising by ‘playing dead’ to protect itself from grazing animals. You can find this intriguing plant in the Rainforest Biome near the pineapples.

Sensitive plant

Botanical description

  • Scientific name: Mimosa pudica
  • Family: Fabaceae (pea, bean, mimosa)

Semi-erect or ground-hugging herb up to 80cm tall, often forming a small bush. Heavily armed with small thorns. Leaves composite, sensitive and soft-textured. Flowers pale pink to lilac, in stalked heads up to 2cm in diameter. Fruits pod-like up to 18mm long with prickly margins. Pollinated by wind and insects.

 

Facts

  • It has a primitive nervous system of electrical impulses that trigger changes in cell water pressure at the base of the leaflets.
  • In some countries the sensitive plant is classed as an invasive.

 

Where it grows

Although native to Central and South America, this plant can be found in most tropical climes, usually in disturbed land around construction sites, orchards and agricultural land.

 

Useful links

 

Glossary

  • Composite: composed of several similar parts.
  • Herb: plant with fleshy parts rather than a persistent woody stem above ground.

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