‘So Cool’: Science Writer Explains Why Don’t Touch Me Plants Wither

Mimosa pudica, which folds its tiny leaves in response to the slightest touch, is one of the most common Fascinating plants of the world. It is found in tropical and semi-tropical environments around the world and goes by many local names such as “chuimui”, “hilahila” and “lozzaboti”.

On Saturday, a science writer shared videos that captured how “electrical signals” inside the plant trigger its folding effect. Ferris Jabr shared the videos recorded by Japanese scientists for a 2022 study published in Nature Communications, a scientific journal.

Jabr shared the video showing how the plant’s electrical impulses were generated and its leaves folded due to the presence of an insect on it. He wrote: “It is not known exactly why Mimosa pudica and other plants fold their leaves. Hypotheses include reducing water loss, exposing thorns, scaring insects, and the appearance of a less voluminous meal. Here M. pudica folds in response to a chewing grasshopper”.

To further explain this behavior, Jabr said, “Although plants don’t have neurons or muscles, they are electrical — all cellular organisms are.” Plants can generate waves of charged particles that travel rapidly from one part of their body to another, causing rapid movement.”

His tweets soon garnered thousands of views and likes. Commenting on Jabr’s tweets, a Twitter user wrote, “Wow! Stunning video. I grew up in Hawaii, where M. pudica is known as “Hilahila,” meaning “shy” or “ashamed.” It is a common and much despised weed there.”

Another person said: “I first saw this plant as a child in a museum and was always disappointed when I came across a similar looking plant that didn’t exhibit the same ‘behaviour’. Also, I never thought that plants have electrical signals. So cool!”