Friday, November 11, 2011

Love even the Obnoxious!

In this country, this weed is considered obnoxious and much hated! People who has encountered this in the farm most probably have experienced its thorns, and they are not just thorns. They are hooks. When they attach on you they will be very difficult to detach, and the thorns attack in unison, because they are very close to each other and very sharp! The resulting wounds are not only sore, they are also itchy! And the scratches stay with you for maybe one week. And if you scratch them, you will have more problems. Are you not scared yet?

The wonder of wonders, it is considered ornamental in some temperate countries, domesticated and cared for as would any other ornamental plant. This is the Mimosa pudica. In Pilipino it is called "makahiya", meaning shy! It came from the plants' habit of folding the leaves when touched, blown or shaken. In Latin,  'pudica' also means shy, bashful or shrinking. ( I would like to correct the Scientific name of this as: Mimosa diplotricha syn. Mimosa invisa)

The flowers are lovely, but look at the hooked thorns bending backwards

Above is a video showing movement of leaves responding to stimuli. The orientation of leaf movement is termed nyctinastic, while movement due to stimuli is termed seismonastic. These are the cells response to loss of turgor pressure. If the video doesn't open at once, please click the links to see actual leaf movements. 

The leaf movements are the plant's defense mechanism to escape attacks by predators. Insects might be scared of plants with fast movements like this. But bigger animals like cows and humans are more scared of its thorns.

No big animal can enter an area with these lush growth of Mimosa pudica.

Vegetative growth without flowers yet

It is also a nightmare for the owner of this area, with the difficulties he will encounter in clearing this site for agricultural purposes. And this plant also spreads so fast during the rainy season, which aggravates the problem of the landowner. It is more difficult if it grows on areas already planted with useful crops. Herbicides are not practiced here, so the traditional weeding methods are employed. Its roots have to be fully removed because the roots also rejuvenate well.



  1. Oh, how interesting! So lovely to look at, but eeek! Thank you for the comment on my Ginkgo trees. Yes, they are the same ginkgo used for enhancing memory!

  2. All defenseless little plants need weapons for their own survival don't they. It is beautiful but thorny, somehow I always find myself on the side of the wild ones, even if they hurt sometimes, so thank you for promoting it:~)

  3. It grows so densely in your country that I can see why this thorny plant might be hated!

  4. Hi Andrea, We have a Mimosa tree in our country ---and it looks similar to yours. However, it is VERY invasive... IF you have one Mimosa in your yard ---then you'll have MANY more... They do have gorgeous flowers ---but I don't want one.

  5. The mimosa pudica looks very nice in photos. I too like to take their pictures, but in my garden - NO,NO,NO! In my area, the common mimosa grows like ground cover or weeds among grass fields. We used to play bare footed in the football fields and I really hate to step on one. However, like to touch their opened leaves and watch them closed one by one.

    Having so many mimosa plants that grow like shrubs is indeed scary! The word "invasive" make it even more terrible.

    In Malay, we call it "Semalu" meaning shy. In Chinese, it is Han xiu cao (含羞草) meaning shy grass.

  6. Same here. I like to take photos of them but I don't like them in my garden. It is quite hard to eradicate them. They keep coming back.

  7. Andrea,

    This looks to be the same as what we call Sensitive Plant, same name different language. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Fascinating! We have a similar plant (if not the same plant) in the Southeastern US. We call it a "touch me not."

  9. My son grew this plant( or a similiar variety, called Sensitive plant) and brought it to the classroom to show everyone. I had no idea it was considered invasive in some places.
    Interesting post!

  10. I love love this makahiya. It's so entertaining.

  11. Cindy - i like your "eeek", yes it is an apt description for the mimosa. Thanks for commenting.

    Foxglove Lane - hahaha, i didn't look at it as promotion but informative, i actually lambasted the plant inside the text. But I also have bias for the endemics here, and this is not one of them though. But it already invaded our areas to the max!

    EG Wow - that is right, and I am totally amazed that people in temperate climes actually plant it as ornamental.

    Betsy - I hope you are very well now. I don't know about mimosa tree, but because it has the same genus as ours, then they have the same habit as a colonizer.

    Autumn Belle - i hope i can remember 'semalu' as i remember bunga kantan. We have the same conditions so i am sure mimosa is hated in your areas too.

  12. One - we always take photos of whatever cross our paths, and yes these photos can well do for fill the frame!

    Randy - yes Mimosa has many common names, but that's the beauty of having a Scientific name or binomial classification, we can understand any plant we are talking about, no matter how many pages its names can be.

    NCMountainwoman - we can only know if they are the same if they have the same Scientific name. Thanks for the visit here.

    Rosey - yes, even some Filipinos who are now living in Canada or other temperate countries plant this there, even if they know this is very bad at home. Plants' habits change due to conditions.

    Photo Cache - yes makahiya is entertaining, a very good example also of some botanical characteristics. It is easier to demonstrate to children than the acacia or raintree/Samanea saman.

  13. Such a pretty flower to be called a weed, I am not sure if I have seen this in my hometown, but that flower is so familiar, but just have different leaves.

    Although I could not enlarge the photo, I could see the details of the morning dew!

  14. Very interesting but I wouldn't like it in my garden.

  15. It is a fascinating plant and we're lucky enough to see it growing around here, but thankfully it hasn't become a huge invasive problem as yet. I think it's just too dry most of the year for it to take over.

    Thanks for visiting my other blog. I know I haven't been posting on My Dry Tropics Garden as regularly as I used to. I do seem to be on the other blog a lot more these days.

    You asked about the diameter of those Daylily blooms ... well most of them are around 10 to 15 cms across and each flower only blooms for one day.

  16. Beautiful series of photos, I love those flowers, great compositions of delicious colors.

  17. I saw one once. But it was quietly growing in its little pot as a display. No idea it could grow so rampant!

  18. thanks for this wonderful weekend flowers. i like this little video :)

  19. I think mimosa is a cool plant and has developed some very unique natural defenses. Has this plant not been around since the dinosaurs too?

  20. Wow, that plant is really interesting, sounds like a nightmare, though to get rid of!

  21. Very interesting...
    Love to read and learn about plants I have never seen before.
    Thank you for detailed information and pictures!!

  22. What a fascinating lesson on Makahiya! I can only imagine what a pest the plant is for farmers. Great post! Cheers, Jenni

  23. Ebie - I am sure it is just around your area, you might just not very observant during those times, or maybe you didn't live in the farm. Thanks for always commenting here.

    Sueb - Thanks for coming over, I am sure if it invades your place and gave you some scratches on the legs, the more you wont like it.

    Bernie - thanks for replying to my question. Maybe it doesn't want summer fires, but it will be back i am sure.

    Leovi - thank you for appreciating my photos. I hope you will drop by again.

    Elephants' Eye - I've read it is cared for as an ornamental in colder climes, i hopw they will not let it grow outside the pot.

    Tina's Picstory - thanks so much for hosting the Weekend Flowers too.

  24. Donna - hahaha, yes it is a very scared but resourceful plant, you can say it might be as old as the dynosaurs, but that i haven't read yet.

    Tatyana - it is a very good actor, it is acting as innocent but actually a potent colonizer.

    em - if you are confronted with this plant in your property, you will experience a lot of negative attitudes, i tell you, trust me!

    Gisela - you are welcome, and I hope you will come again.

    Jenni - hi, it is actually a misnomer for its habits, it really is not shy in invading and hurting animals, especially man.

    Modern Mom - thank you.

  25. I've seen a plant that curls up like this one, but it was much smaller and no flowers. Maybe just younger? Now I'll watch out for it. I can see that it would be a pain for farmers.

  26. AJ - thank you for your visit, i certainly appreciate it.

    Francisca - there is a small weed that also have similar leaves and almost same morphology, but it is very short without flower. It also exhibit 'shyness' when touched. We call it 'makahiya' also. In our place in Batangas the posted invasive makahiya is called also 'sapinit'

  27. Andrea, thanks for visiting my site.

    Mimosas grown indoors are harmless, because there is virtually no chance of it becoming invasive. It's confined to a pot. And I have scissors!

    But I can see why the plant would give your farmers a headache! I liked your post about it.


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