Sensitive plant | The world’s fastest plants

Plants aren’t usually thought of as very fast moving – they stay in one place, almost completely still, occasionally drooping over if you forget to water them. In some cases, however, plants can be amazingly quick; grabbing hold of insects, shooting out their seeds or spinning their leaves round to get a suntan.

Next in our series on the world’s fastest plants is…

Sensitive plant | Native to South and Central America

Sensitive plants

The sensitive plant is a type of herb originally from South America. Whereas some of the plants in our series move to find food or to distribute their seeds, the sensitive plant moves because it’s shy and doesn’t like being touched.

Animation of a sensitive plant after being touched

Credit: Hrushikesh/Wikipedia

Each of the plant’s leaves is made up of numerous pairs of mini-leaves, and it’s these mini-leaves that quickly fold up whenever they’re touched, blown, shaken, or possibly even just looked at.

Sensitive plant being touched

There are various theories about why the sensitive plant does this; it may be the plant’s attempt to shrink and protect itself from predators, or perhaps the fast movement is designed to scare off hungry animals – although it’s hard to imagine a hungry animal being dissuaded by such a nervous display.

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The world’s fastest plants

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About Nick Heady

Nick Heady

My favourite holiday souvenir is a shower cap I brought home from the Luxor casino in Las Vegas. I’ve never used it, though. I’m saving it for a special occasion.

At the Luxor, all the casino games are inside a pyramid. The hotel rooms are also inside a pyramid. And their shower caps come in little pyramid-shaped boxes. It’s fantastic.

Once you’ve been to Vegas, there’s no need to go to Egypt. The Luxor’s pyramid has a giant lamp on top and, from the hotel windows, you can see a medieval castle – the same can’t be said for Egypt’s pyramids. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a model of the Sphinx that’s bigger than the one in Giza. It’s made of plastic, sure, but at least its nose is still intact.

Nick works in our marketing team

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