OF THE WEEK
Dr. T. Ombrello - UCC Biology Department
Sensitive plant, Humble plant, Mori vivi (West Indies) and Shame Plant (Africa, Vietnam).
Scientific name: Mimosa pudica
Explanation of scientific name:
- a mimic, alluding to the fact that the leaves are sensitive (Greek).
- bashful, retiring, shrinking (Latin).
There are over 300
species of Mimosa that
belong to the bean (pea) family Leguminosae. This species, Mimosa
pudica, is native
to Brazil but is naturalized throughout the tropics of the Americas, Africa, and
Asia. It runs wild as a weed in the
pudica is a
perennial but is often cultivated as an annual in gardens.
The shrubby plant will grow to 18 inches outdoors with hairy and spiny
stems. Its flowers resemble little
purplish puffs that give rise to ½ inch-long pods containing 3 – 4 seeds.
This small species should not be confused with the hardy outdoor tree Albizia julibrissin,
commonly called Mimosa or Silk tree.