Mimosa pudica: The Memory Plant


Mimosa pudica or touch me not or a sensitive plant, so many names and so many interesting facts associated with this plant. Before going through some of the interesting facts about these plants let us just understand what a Mimosa pudica plant is. This plant belongs to the family Mimosaseae and the plant is famous for its bashful behavior. It is a creeping annual or perennial herb. The plant is a native of tropical America and naturalized nearly all through the tropical and subtropical parts of the world.  The name in Latin Pudica is the translation of ‘Bashful’ or ‘shy’. Let us see some of the interesting facts about Mimosa pudica: The Memory Plant.

Movement in Mimosa pudica

Rapid plant movement of this plant is categorized under two types of motion

  1. Nyctinastic movement
  2. Seismonastic movement

Nyctinastic movement: In this movement, the leaflets of the plant fold together and the whole leaf droops downwards in the evening. It then re-opens at sunrise. This type of movement where the leaves closed during the dark and open in the light is known as Nyctinastic movement (1).

Seismonastic movement: Because of some external stimulus, the leaves droop or close due to the loss in turgor pressure (The state of turgidity and resulting rigidity of cells or tissues, typically due to the absorption of fluid). This type of sudden movement due to a rapid loss in pressure is known as Seismonastic movement (2).

Medicinal value of Mimosa pudica

The plant has been found to have antiasthmatic, aphrodisiac, analgesic, and antidepressant properties. M. pudica is known to possess sedative, emetic, and tonic properties.

And has been used traditionally in the treatment of various ailments including alopecia, diarrhea, dysentery, insomnia, tumor, and various urogenital infections.

Phytochemical studies on M. pudica have revealed the presence of alkaloids, non-protein amino acid mimosine, flavonoids C-glycosides, sterols, terpenoids, tannins, and fatty acids (3).

Compounds in Mimosa pudica and their medicinal value

1. Wound healing property

The roots of this plant is having wound healing properties due to the presence of compound Phenolics (4).

2. Analgestic and anti-inflammatory properties

The flavonoid compounds of the leaves of this plant is having analgesics that is pain relieving properties and anti-inflammatory properties (5).

3. Anti-malarial property

Antiplasmodial constituents such as terpenoids, flavonoids, and alkaloids of this plant possess anti-malarial properties (6).

4. Anti-fertility activity

Studies on animal models prove the antifertility properties of this plant. The root extract of Mimisa pudica altered the estradiol secretion and gonadotropin release. Thus the dose prolonged the estrous cycle (7).

Mimosa pudica: The Memory Plant

Do you think that plants can remember? Surely not as like other animals plants do not have any brain then how do they can remember things? But this case is completely opposite for the plant Mimosa pudica. In the year 2014, research was done by a scientist Dr. Gagliano on the plant Mimosa. She observed that this plant folded its leaves in an act of protection against unknown stimuli when dropped from a height of 15 cm.

She repeated this experiment every 5 seconds for 5 mins until the plant stops folding its leaf for this reaction. Thus, Dr. Gagliano concluded that the plant realized that the stimulus wasn’t harmful and that folding the leaves is a waste of energy for this plant. Hence the plant Mimosa kept its leaves open when they are dropped again and again.

The same experiment was again repeated after 1 week and 1 month and for a few more months to prove that the not folding of leaves was just not because the plant gets exhausted and unable to muster the energy necessary to close the leaves.

Hence this experiment of  Dr. Gagliano proves that plants are capable of storing information in the form of memories (8).

Summary of Mimosa pudica

  • The plant Mimosa, with its rich reservoir of active biochemical compounds, possesses another distinctive characteristic not commonly found in other plants. That is the ability to retain the memory of external stimuli and respond accordingly.
  • This unique trait sets it apart. Additionally, Mimosa has been sought after as an ornamental plant due to its intriguing thigmonastic and nyctinastic movements.
  • Beyond its aesthetic appeal, Mimosa has a long history of medicinal use in treating various ailments. Including cancer, diabetes, hepatitis, obesity, and urinary infections.
  • Notably, M. pudica is renowned for its anticancer alkaloid called mimosine. Alongside other valuable secondary metabolites such as tannins, steroids, flavonoids, triterpenes, and glycosyl flavones.
  • Mimosa’s role in alleviating pain, reducing seizures, and enhancing mood demonstrates it as a natural alternative in treating neurological and psychological disorders.
  • Overall, the multifaceted therapeutic properties of Mimosa validate its significance as a medicinal plant. And with immense potential for further exploration and application in various areas of healthcare (9).

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