Mimosa pudica flower from Thrissur, Kerala, India
Mimosa pudica folding leaflets inward.
Mimosa pudica seeds
Mimosa pudica with mature seed pods on plant
Mimosa pudica seedling with two cotyledons and some leaflets.
The whole plant of Mimosa pudica includes thorny stem and branches, flower head, dry flowers, seed pods, and folded and unfolded leaflets
The stem is erect in young plants, but becomes creeping or trailing with age. It can hang very low and become floppy. 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 in mid summer with more and more flowers as the plant gets older. The globose to ovoid heads are 8–10 mm (0.3–0.4 in) 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 two to eight pods from 1–2 cm (0.4–0.8 in) long each, these being prickly on the margins. The pods break into two to five segments and contain pale brown seeds about 2.5 mm (0.1 in) long. The flowers are insect pollinated and wind pollinated. The seeds have hard seed coats which restrict germination and make osmotic pressure and soil acidity less significant hindrances. High temperatures are the main stimuli that cause the seeds to end dormancy.
The roots of Mimosa pudica create carbon disulfide, which prevents certain pathogenic and mycorrhizal fungi from growing within the plant's rhizosphere. This allows the formation of nodules on the roots of the plant that contain endosymbiotic diazotrophs, which fix atmospheric nitrogen and convert it into a form that is usable by the plant
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