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Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Mimosa pudica

Shameplant's leaves

Shameplant is a species of mimosa known by the scientific name Mimosa pudica. They are best known as a thigmonastic plant (move in response to touch). Shameplants and have several other common names such as the sensitive plant, the humble plant, the shameful plant, and the sleeping grass. Their name(s) are based on their reaction to touch; when disturbed, the sensitive plant's leaves fold in, and if disturbed extensively, the leaves will droop down. They are native to South and Central America and invasive to Australia and America.[1]


Shameplant's leaves in their undisturbed state

Stem: The stem is upright and slender, having a reddish-brown color, and has prickly sides.[2]

Leaves: They look like fern leaves or feathers that close up when disturbed by someone, something, or fire. The bipinnate leaves fold in from cushionlike swellings called pulvini, which are located at the base of each leaf. If the leaves are touched with more force, then the petioles will cause the pulvinis and the leaves to droop down. These reactions to physical shock are called thigmonastic movements (also called seismonastic), are what gives the plant it's interesting name. In the night time the leaves will also fold and bend in movements known as nyctonastic movements (reaction to absence of light). The leaves usually have between 12 and 25 leaflets on each leaf, which are connected by a red pinnae. This plant's leaflets range from 9 to 12mm long and approximately 1.5mm wide.[3]

Flowers: Flowers bloom in the summer, which are pale pink in color and look spherical[4], growing to around 1 inch in diameter.[5]

Pods: The plant's pods are flat and prickly.[6] To spread around, the pods can float in water or attach themselves to animals and vehicles.

Seeds: The seeds of the Shameplant are brown and usually around 2 mm in diameter. The seed is round and spherical; and like peas, the seed stays in the pod.[7]


Mimosa pudica has a unique way of reproduction. The flower part is not like most flowering plant's flowers. The Shameplant does not have petals, instead the flower has the shape of a ball with fuzzy things coming from the base. The seeds from this plant are contained inside of a pod, similar to peas. This pod has small thorn-like structures that allows the seed pod to cling to road construction equipment, clothing, cars, and more. This allows the seeds to travel far distances before taking roots so that the range of the plant can continually spread. [8]


Where Shameplants are most commonly seen

The sensitive plant grows well almost anywhere. From fairly bad soil to soil with almost no nutrients in them, the shameplant can live since it can fix nitrogen from the atmosphere.[9] It is considers to be a weed or pest to some and a beautiful plant to some. If you like the plant or not is based on your own criteria, but this plant does perform photosynthesis like all other plants. Shameplant is able to produce carbon disulfide. This could be taken two ways. A good thing about this is that carbon disulfide is one of the main building blocks for organ chemistry. The bad part being that carbon disulfide, if at high levels, can cause permanent damage to the nervous system. This plant can be found most commonly in orchards and forests, along roadways, especially when there is a long construction period or a road that has heavy traffic. The shampelant is attracted to these disturbances.[10] Shameplant has several requirements for where it lives, some of these requirements are: an annual rainfall of 1000 - 2000 mm, an altitude of 1300 meters or less, a temperature that allows the ground to rarely to never frost over, and the shameplant must have little to no shade from the sun.[11]


The Shameplant has a unique trait that not many other plants possess. The trait is the reaction to heat and touch, where the plant will fold up onto the midrib of the leaf, and in some cases, if a little more pressure is applied, it will fold up and curl downwards, hence the name Shameplant. This is caused by thigmonastic movements, a subcategory of nastic movements. Thigmonastic movements are defined as a rapid loss of turgor pressure in response to touch. Even though the leaves of Mimosa pudica fold up, in a few moments the leaves will reopen.[12]