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Mimosa Plant (Mimosa pudica): How It Moves its Leaves

Mimosa Plant Motor Movements

The Mimosa Plant

The Mimosa plant (Mimosa pudica) also known as “touch-me-not” means “mimicking shy”. This name derived from Greek and Latin came about because of the plants curious motor movements. Far more interesting than the Venus flytrap, the Mimosa promptly closes its leaves if it is touched or shaken. If the touch is strong enough the entire plant ends up folding its leaves together leaving the Mimosa almost unrecognizable potentially providing safety from foragers.

Why Does The Plant Move?

It is thought that the Mimosa plant moves as a defense mechanism. For example, it would be beneficial for the Mimosa to close its leaves if a caterpillar climbed on it. Instead of eating the leaves, the caterpillar might be stuck inside the leaf, or it might fall off the plant. Closing the leaves also makes the plant look less appetizing to passing herbivores and prevents water loss at night.

Mimosa flowers

Flowering Mimosa plant

Flowering Mimosa plant

How Does The Mimosa Move?

There are two cases that cause the Mimosa to close its leaves. Do not imagine that the plant has a central nervous system, neurons and all, that allow it to sense when it is in danger. Nyctonastic movements, which are reactions that happen in absence of light, cause the Mimosa to close its leaves at night.

Chemical responses also enable the Mimosa plant to close its leaves when it is touched. Specialized tissue moves potassium, K+, ions from one cell to another and a pressure response builds that squeezes the plant shut. This pressure is called Turgor pressure and it can happen because Mimosas and all plants have cell walls which are rigid enough that they prevent the cell from blowing up when it swells, but flexible enough to allow it to move just enough for it to be able to shut its leaves.

Mimosa pudica (many seeds)

How long does the Mimosa stay closed?

At night, the entire plant closes its leaves. During the daytime the Mimosa’s leaves remain open unless there is a stimulus. The leaves reopen a few minutes after the stimulus is gone.

Seedling Mimosa Plant

Seedling Mimosa Plant

Where Is The Mimosa Found?

The species is native to South America and Central America, but can readily be purchased at Garden Shops.

Other Plants With The Ability To Move


Sam on February 12, 2020:

Can canerys eat this plant please

Yoohoo on May 21, 2016:

Thanks for the information!Its really helpful for me.Thank you! :)

surendra mohan sharma on August 27, 2015:

I have grown this plant in my room b/c it responds unlike many human beings. I play with it. I find it a good companion in my old age loneliness.

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michde taza on November 10, 2014:

makahiya plant is beautiful plant andvery good at finding

Deya Writes (author) on October 10, 2013:

Thank you, glad you enjoyed it

Thelma Alberts from Germany on October 04, 2013:

Very informative hub. Thanks for sharing your knowledge about the touch me not flower. Have a lovely weekend!

KerryAnita from Satellite Beach, Florida on November 19, 2012:

Fascinating! What a cool plant, nature is awesome!

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 20, 2012:

Londonlady, very good explanation about the 'touch me not' plant. I remember when I was in school we were learnt about these plants that moved.

Hydra, a simple aquatic animal is locomotory. It literally moves by somersaulting when hunting for food. It can also move by amoeboid motion of its base or even floating by detaching itself totally from the base.

Nature always amazes me.

Voted up and interesting.

Plantastic on March 20, 2012:

Great hub ..just go to to grow your own indoors. And to get the book that contains dozens of photos and how to care for the plant year round.

Deya Writes (author) on March 19, 2012:

They're pretty cool. I've only recently heard of them but they were fascinating enough to make me write this. Thanks for the comment Brupie.

Brupie on March 19, 2012:

Thanks for the explanation. I was always curious how they moved. I had one of these plants when I was a child, but haven't seen one for ages.

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