December Plant of the Month 2012


The flower of the plant when it blooms in summer.

(Image by Lynsey Wilson, RBGE)

Mimosa pudica or Sensitive Plant

This is an evergreen shrub that reaches five feet in height and produces globe-shaped flowers in summer. The plant's most fascinating feature is the fern-like leaves that close and fold up when touched. This reaction is known as a sesimanastic movement, or a physical reaction to shock. During the hours of darkness the leaves also close as a reaction to the absence of light. This is known as nyctonastic movement. The plants common name derives from the sensitivity to outside stimuli.

The Mimosa pudica is native to Brazil and other areas in South and Central America.

The roots, leaves and flowers have medicinal properties and are used to alleviate conditions such as leprosy, dysentery, jaundice and blood impurities.

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The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)