The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 12

Q: Mimosa ("Sensitive plants")

A: Repeat after me, "Mimosa is not a carnivorous plant."

But touch this plant's ferny foliage, and the leaflets all fold up! Pester the plant even more, and the entire branch droops forlornly to the ground! Such a sad sight!

Why does it do this? Probably to avoid being eaten by browsing animals. It does not look very appetizing when the leaves are all folded up and hiding--all you see are the nasty thorns on the plant's stems.

The sensitive plant commonly sold in stores as a curiosity is a member of the pea family. Its Latin name is Mimosa pudica. However, there are a number of other related plants which share the sensitive characteristic, so you cannot assume that any sensitive plant is Mimosa pudica.

This species is an annoying invasive species in many tropical or subtropical habitats, Hawai'i for example. I once encountered a roadside population of the plant as I walked along a mountain road in Mexico. Unfortunately, this encounter was closer than I would have preferred since it occurred as I was forced to run into a dense clump of the stuff in order to avoid a swerving and highspeed drunken gringo driver. Must I remind you that the plant has spines? I was wearing shorts. The spines on the plants are hooked, and very sharp.

It hurt.

Page citations: Mabberley, D.J. 1987; Rice, B.A. 2006a; personal observations.

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Revised: 2018
©Barry Rice, 2018