Fluorescent flashes reveal the leaf-closing secrets of ‘touch-me-not’ plant

New videos show bright flashes running down the spine of shameplant leaves as their leaflets begin to close up. The flashes are given off by calcium ions released as electric signals are received by tiny organs called pulvini. (Image credit: MASATSUGU TOYOTA/SAITAMA UNIVERSITY)

Flashes of light shoot along the spines of fluorescent-stained leaves from the “touch-me-not” plant as they fold up in striking new videos. The flashy footage has revealed how the plant closes up in a matter of seconds, despite lacking nerves and muscles. 

The shameplant (Mimosa pudica), also known as the touch-me-not, is renowned for its ability to quickly curl up its leaves when they are touched by retracting the leaf’s elongated, pine-like leaflets back toward its central spine. However, until now, the exact mechanisms behind this animal-like reflex have largely remained a mystery. 

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