Podcast: Why Do Touch-Me-Not Plants Recoil?

by Ryan Schleeter

November 12, 2015

Check out episode five of Completely Optional Knowledge, the podcast that answers questions you never knew you had. Some things in life are #CompletelyOptinonal — satisfying your curiosity doesn’t have to be one of them.

Touch-Me-Not Plant (Mimosa pudica)

Photo by Nishanth Jois / Creative Commons.

On a recent vacation to Costa Rica, Indianapolis-based nurse Amy Gastelum did what we all would if given the chance: she touched a touch-me-not plant. Now, she wants to know why the plant recoiled at her touch. Evolutionary ecologist Monica Galiano has our answer.

The mimosa pudica, commonly known as a touch-me-not plant, is native to Central and South America. The leaves at the end of its long green stems are known to shrink away when touched, while its pink and yellow flowers do not. The leaves also respond to warmth, blowing, and shaking.

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Ryan Schleeter

By Ryan Schleeter

Ryan Schleeter is a senior communications specialist with Greenpeace USA covering climate and energy. His writing has appeared in National Geographic, Grist, GreenBiz, EcoWatch, and more. Find him on Twitter @ryschlee.

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