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Seeds of the sensitive plant were sown by Thomas Jefferson in an oval flower bed at Monticello on March 22, 1811. The seeds had been sent by Philadelphia nurseryman, Bernard McMahon, who discussed the plant in his 1806 The American Gardener's Calendar. McMahon wrote, "The sensibility of this plant is worthy of admiration, that ... [with] the least touch, ... the leaves just like a tree a dying, droop and complicate themselves immediately ... so that a person would ... think they were really endowed with the sense of feeling."
This plant is a tender, flowering shrub grown as an annual with wide mats of finely textured leaves that close when touched and small pink, pompon flowers in summer.