Herbs & Plants

Mimosa Pudica(Makahiya )

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Botanical Name:Mimosa Pudica
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Mimosoideae
Kingdom: Fauna
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Genus: Squirrel
Species: Squirrel
Part Used : Root, Flower, Leaves, And Stem.
Common names:Mimosa Pudica,Makahiya,Twelve O’Clock
English: Sensitive Plant, Sleeping Grass
French: Sensitive
Latin : Mimosa Pudica Linn.

Bengali Name: Lajjaboti
Other: Betguen Sosa (Guam); Memege (Niue); Mechiuaiu (Palau); Limemeihr (Pohnpei); Ra Kau Pikikaa (Cook Islands)

The Chinese name for this plant, translates to “shyness grass”. In Japanese it is known as (o-jigisou), meaning “bowing grass”. Its Sinhala name is Nidikumba, where ‘nidi’ means ‘sleep’. Its Tamil name is Thottal Sinungi, where ‘Thottal’ means ” touched’ and ‘Sinungi’ means ‘little cry’. Other non-English common names include Makahiya (Philippines, with maka- meaning “quite” or “tendency to be”, and -hiya meaning “shy”, or “shyness”), Mori Vivi (West Indies), and mate-loi (false death) (Tonga).

Mimosa pudica is common in rather moist waste ground, in lawns, in open plantations, and weedy thicklets. It forms a dense ground cover, preventing reproduction of other species. It is a wild land fire hazard when dry.

The plant is a native of tropical America, naturalized nearly all through the tropical and sub tropical parts of India.

Mimosa pudica is native to South America,Brazil and Central America. It has been introduced to many other regions and is regarded as an invasive species in Tanzania, South Asia and South East Asia and many Pacific Islands. It is regarded as invasive in parts of Australia and is a declared weed in the Northern Territory, and Western Australia although not naturalized there. Control is recommended in Queensland. It has also been introduced to Nigeria, Seychelles, Mauritius and East Asia but is not regarded as invasive in those places. It also grows in parts of Florida, in the United States of America.

Bloom Season: Summer
Conditions: Full Sun

Mimosa pudica (Sensitive Plant) (pudica = shy) is a creeping annual or perennial herb often grown for its curiosity value; the compound leaves fold inward and droop when touched, re-opening within minutes. The species is native to South America and Central America, but is now a pantropical weed.

The stem is erect in young plants, but becomes creeping or trailing with age. The stem is slender, branching, and sparsely-to-densely prickly, growing to a length of 1.5 m (5 ft). The leaves are bipinnately compound, with one or two pinnae pairs, and 10-26 leaflets per pinna. The petioles are also prickly. Pedunculate (stalked) pale pink or purple flower heads arise from the leaf axils. The globose to ovoid heads are 8-10 mm in diameter (excluding the stamens). On close examination, it is seen that the floret petals are red in their upper part and the filaments are pink to lavender. The fruit consists of clusters of 2-8 pods from 1-2 cm long each, these prickly on the margins. The pods break into 2-5 segments and contain pale brown seeds some 2.5 mm long. The flowers are pollinated by the wind and insects.

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This short lived evergreen sub shrub is usually treated as an annual. It is grown for its curiosity value- the fern like leaves close up and droop when touched, usually re-opening within minutes. It has prickly stems and small, fluffy, ball shaped pink flowers in summer. It grows to a height of 5 ft and spreads around 3 ft- a perennial plant, it grows to a height of 0.5m with a spread of 0.3m. In some areas this plant is becoming a noxious weed. The stem is erect, slender and branching. The leaves are bipinnate, fern like and pale green- closing when disturbed. The flowers are pale lilac pink, occurring in globose heads and appearing in summer. Indigenous to the northern hemisphere, it is adaptable to most soils in an open, sunny position, and is drought and frost tender. Due to its ability to fix nitrogen from the air it does well on poor soils. “Sensitive Plant” folds up its leaves when touched or exposed to a flame. This plant requires a medium light exposure, an evenly moist soil, and temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees. One should use caution when handling seedlings because the plant dislikes root disturbance. Mimosa may be difficult to grow and is sensitive to over watering.

*stems- red-brown prickly.

*leaves– immediately fold by pulvini if touched, pinnae 4, often reddish, leaflets 12-25 pairs, acute, bristly, 9-12mm long,1.5mm wide.
*flowers– pink, in globose heads, nearly 1cm in diameter, auxiliary, punduncle up to 2.5cm long.
*pods- crowded, flat, prickly, briskly.
– Bristles on seed pod cling to fur and clothing, about 2 mm broad, rounded, brown.

Mimosa is difficult to grow because it dislikes root disturbance and is sensitive to over-watering. Mimosa pudica is a beautiful flower and to be truthful it is known for decoration purposes only. One cannot eat the plant since it is believed to be toxic if ingested, nor can one run in it since its stems are pricky. The bristles on the seed pod which are flat and briskly also cling to your clothes. There have been researches which show mimosa pudica to be a herbal medicine but it hasn’t proven itself to be able to treat anything. Pharmaceutical companies are still researching its properties and uses.

In many places, Mimosa Pudica is becoming a noxious weed, and it can be controlled with various chemical herbicides such as dicamba. Mimosa pudica is also a host to parasites such as Cochineals insects, one gets rid of the insects by progressively removing them using a cotton stem soaked with alcohol, but if the insects are too numerous, one much sacrifice the sensitive plant and to not re-use the ground nor the pot on which it was cultured. The plant must also be grown in low humidity or it may also have fungal problems. I find this plant interesting because it appears to be sensitive and weak to one’s touch yet is very powerful and defensive because of its bristled seed pods.

Plant movement
Mimosa pudica is well known for its rapid plant movement. In the evening the leaflets will fold together and the whole leaf droops downward. It then re-opens at sunrise. This type of motion has been termed nyctinastic movement. The leaves also close up under various other stimuli, such as touching, warming, or shaking. The stimulus can also be transmitted to neighbouring leaves. These types of movements have been termed seismonastic movements. The movement is caused by “a rapid loss of pressure in strategically situated cells that cause the leaves to droop right before one’s eyes”. This characteristic is quite common within the Mimosaceae family.

Agricultural impacts
The species can be a troublesome weed in tropical crops, particularly when fields are hand cultivated. Dry thickets may become a fire hazard. In some cases it has become a forage plant although the variety in Hawaii is reported to be toxic to livestock.

In cultivation, this plant is most often grown as an indoor annual, but is also grown for groundcover. Propagation is generally by seed.

By seed or by cuttings. Seeds need to germinate- cover the seeds with very hot water and let soak overnight or until they swell. Pick out those that didn’t swell and repeat this process with them. Sow swollen seeds immediately in seeding mix, covering with two to three times their thickness. Do not over water or allow to dry out and provide good drainage and bright light. It should germinate within a few days with pretreatment. Do not over water and keep humidity low or fungal problems may occur.

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Mimosa pudica is sold as an educational product and novelty gift sometimes under the trademark name Tickle Me Plant.A very popular ornamental due to its ability to close the leaves upon being touched.

Other Uses :
*Grown as garden herb
*Useful for green manuring
*Fixes nitrogen
*Can be used as fodder.
*Suitable for growing in wastelands
*Seed yield an oil like Soybean oil with similar properties

Chemical Constituent: Contains an alkaloid Mimosine. Roots contain tannin, ash, calcium oxalate crystals and mimosin. “It is susceptible to several herbicides, including dicamba, glyphosate, picloram and triclopyr” (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992).

There hasn’t been any information on this species so far, but many other Mimosa species, such as Mimosa tenuiflora and Mimosa scabrella are known to contain tryptamines in the roots. Recent reports on the internet suggest that this may be the case with this species too.

Medicinal properties

The plant lajjalu described in Ayurveda has been identified as Mimosa pudica. This plant has several alternate Sanskrit common names, including Namaskari, and Rakta Paadi.

In Ayurveda, the plant is described as a plant which folds itself when touched and spreads its leaves once again after a while. It is said to have a bitter and astringent taste, and has a history of use for the treatment of various ailments. Most commonly used is the root, but leaves, flowers, bark, and fruit can also be implemented.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: According to Ayurveda, root is bitter, acrid, cooling, vulnerary, alexipharmic and used in treatment of biliousness, leprosy, dysentery, vaginal and uterine complaints, inflammations, burning sensation, fatigue, asthma, leucoderma, blood diseases etc. According to the Unani system of medicine, root is resolvent, alternative, useful in diseases arising from blood impurities and bile, bilious fevers, piles, jaundice, leprosy etc.

Ayurvedan Properties (guna) of Lajjalu
*Has tikta and kashaya rasa (bitter and astringent taste).

*Has property of cold (sheetha).

*Balances kapha, pitta.

*Shushrutha has placed this plant in Priyangwambhastaadi gana

The plant is sheetala, tikla, kashaya; subdues deranged kapha and pitta; beneficial in haemorrhagic diseases, diarrhoea and gynaecological disorders.

Parts Used; Leaves and root.

Therapeutic Uses;

juice used in sinus, sores, piles and fistula: paste applied to glandular swellings and hydrocele; root: decoction efficaccous_in gravel and other urinary complaints.

The root is bitter and acrid; cooling, vulnerary, alexipharmic; cures” kapha “, biliousness, leprosy, dysentery, vaginal and uterine complaints, inflammations, burning sensation, fatigue, asthma, leucoderma, diseases of the blood

The root is resolvent, alterative; useful in diseases arising from corrupted blood and bile, bilious fevers, piles, jaundice, leprosy, ulcers, smallpox

A decoction of the root of this plant is useful in gravellish complaints. Some prescribe the leaves and root in cases of piles and fistula; the first are given in powder, in a little milk, to the quantity of two pagodas weight or more during the day.

The leaves are rubbed into a paste and applied to hydrocele; and their juice, with an equal quantity of horses’ urine, is made into an anjan, used to remove films of the conjunctiva by setting up an artificial inflammation.

The juice of the leaves is used to impregnate cotton wool for a dressing, in any form of sinus. the plant is considered diuretic, astringent, antispasmodic. It is much used for convulsions in children.

it is prescribed for vesical calculi. Externally it is used rheumatism, myalgia, and tumour of the uterus.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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