12. Name Three Differences Between Animal And Plant Cells Touch Me Not – An Amazing Plant

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Touch Me Not – An Amazing Plant

I saw my son playing with a plant that was rubbing its leaves by mere touch. It appears as if this plant is shy of human touch. The little creeper made me curious to know about it. This sensitive plant is scientifically known as Mimosa pudica.This humble plant is known with many names like Chhui-Mui, Lajwanti, Lajjawati, Lajalu, Lajak, Makahiya, Memege etc. in different parts of the world.

One of the very strange characteristics of this plant is that its leaves close even with a small sensation like touch. It is a favorite plant for children as they like to blow, shake, touch this plant and notice the changes between the leaves. These types of movements, shown by this plant are known as seismonastic or thigmonastic movements and are often seen with plants belonging to Mimosoideae legume family, Fabaceae. Besides this, the leaves bend and fold without fire. These movements are called nyctonastic movements.

Scientifically it has bipinnately compound leaves and petioles are prickly. The base of the plant leaf is swollen and is known as Pulvinus. The flexibility of the base of the leaf is due to the vascular cells surrounded by thin parenchyma cells.

The rigid cell wall of a typical plant cell is maintained by cell vacuoles. Water and cell contents within these vacuoles cause turgor pressure on the cell walls. Upon slight disturbance of these leaflets, chemicals containing potassium ions are released by certain areas of the stem. These chemicals force water out of the vacuoles of the cells in the leaves. As a result, water is diffused out of the cells reducing the turgor pressure. Turgidity levels vary between different regions of the cell. This causes the small leaflets to close and press the pulvinus leading to the collapse of the leaf petiole. The miracle is moving to the neighboring leaves slowly.

Why should a plant behave in such a way? Living things try to protect themselves from predators. For example we have receptors in the skin that respond to touch. Plants are eaten by herbivorous animals that are afraid of fast-growing plants. The touch-me-not plant shrinks on mere touch so animals avoid this plant and are an active and inactive one. This plant prevents harmful insects like wasps or locusts from sitting on it in two ways. The first method is to read your booklets aloud. Because of this the leaflets appear as small branches that are not attractive to the insects. If this process fails to escape from the insects, the leaves begin to fall. This exposes the thorny petioles to insects and the plant will remove them.

The fact that plants also have pain and emotional intelligence was shown by an Indian scientist, Jagadish Chandra Bose. This plant was announced as plant of the week on October 12-22, 2001.

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