We’ve all been there. Whether it’s on a jam-packed train or at a sold-out concert, you don’t have to be an introvert to feel socially overwhelmed in a crowd of strangers. That uneasy feeling you get when someone gets a bit too close for comfort can make even the most extroverted of us feel a bit uncomfortable.
But what if I told you there exists a plant that, like, us humans, isn’t a big fan of strangers invading its personal space? Let me introduce you to Mimosa pudica, the unusual plant that shrinks when you touch it!
Now, I know what you’re thinking, but no, this plant doesn’t belong in the alien ranforests of Pandora! This funky fern can be found off the cinema screen, and you might even have one growing in your own backyard!
Commonly known as the shy plant, Mimosa pudica can be easily identified by its eye-catching puffy flowers, which resemble flowery pink pom-poms. You won’t find this shy little shrub leading the cheer-leading squad, however! Touch or shake Mimosa pudica and it’ll close down emotionally, nervously clutching its leaves together until it feels brave enough to open back up again.
The curious phenomenon was first examined by famous 17th-century microscopist Robert Hooke, who at the time believed he had found the first plantanimal hybrid with nerves and tissues similar to mammals.
Thankfully, scientists later debunked this, discovering that Mimosa pudica’s shy behaviour was actually caused by water rapidly moving away from its delicate leaves, allowing it to play dead and avoid hungry herbivores and pesky vegetarians!
So next time you’re out for a stroll, keep an eye out for this timid little plant. Just don’t get too close or you might just scare it to death!
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