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Mimosa pudica - Sensitive Plant
Scientific Name: Mimosa pudica
Seeds of the sensitive plant were sown by Thomas Jefferson in an oval flower bed at Monticello on March 22, 1811.1 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."2
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.
- Peggy Cornett, n.d.
- 1. Betts, Garden Book, 445. Manuscript and transcription available online at Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts, Massachusetts Historical Society. See also Edwin M. Betts, Hazlehurst Bolton Perkins, and Peter J. Hatch, Thomas Jefferson's Flower Garden at Monticello, 3rd ed. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1986), 70.
- 2. Bernard McMahon, The American Gardener's Calendar, 1806 (Charlottesville: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1997), 439.