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Project Name Data (Last Modified On 11/15/2012)

Flora Data (Last Modified On 11/15/2012)
PlaceOfPublication Sp. P1. 518. 1753.
Reference Bentham (Trans. Linn. Soc. 30:397. 1875)
Synonym M. endymionis Mart.; M. hirsuta Mob. & Sess.; M. hispidula HBK.; M. irritabilis Presl; M. pudibunda Willd.; M. striato-stipula Steud.; M. tetrandra H. & B.; M. unijuga Duchass. & Walp.
Description Prostrate herb to somewhat suffruticose, the branchlets terete, glabrous or pubescent (often both glabrous and pubescent branchlets on same plant), heavily or lightly armed with recurved thorns, the thorns broad-based and black-tipped. Leaves moderately small, sensitive, bipinnate, the pinnae 1 or (more commonly) 2 pairs, the leaflets mostly about 16 pairs; petiole elongate, up to 4 cm. long, sub- terete, glabrous or pubescent and sometimes even aculeate, eglandular, with a con- spicuous basal pulvinus; rachis short (2-3 mm.) or obsolete; pinnae congested, the pinnular rachis and pulvinus usually setose, with a pair of squami just above the pulvinus; leaflets linear or linear-oblong, 3-12 mm. long and mostly 1-2 mm. wide, abruptly acute or sulbobtuse apically, inequilaterally truncate or rounded basally, with 1 or 2 smaller basal veins in addition to the costa, venation remote but visible below, glabrous except the margins (and sometimes the lower surface) yellow-setose; stipules linear-lanceolate, falcate, 4-8 mm. long, setose. Inflorescence of axillary, pedunculate, head-like spikes; peduncle about 2 cm. long in maturity; spikes short, very condensed, many-flowered; floral bractlets linear-lanceolate or linear-oblanceolate, setose. Flowers pinkish, sessile; calyx extremely minute, only a fraction of a mm. long; corolla funnelform, 1-2 mm. long, glabrous, 4-lobed, the lobes about half as long as the tube; stamens 4, about 7 mm. long, free, gla- brous; anthers minute, nearly orbicular; ovary small, glabrous, bilateral, the style about equalling the stamens. Legumes typically in a dense cluster, usually 10-15 mm. long and about 4 mm. wide, flat, glabrous, segmented, somewhat constricted between the articulated, 1-seeded segments, heavily setose-aculeate on the margins, the margins persisting after dispersal of the segments.
Habit herb
Distribution Southern Mexico to middle South America; West Indies. Introduced into Old World tropics; cultivated under glass in temperate regions.
Specimen BOCAS DEL TORO: Chiriqui Lagoon, H. von Wedel 1492, r6i9, 2870. CANAL ZONE: "Chagres", Fendler 96; Gatuin, Hayes 159; Las Cruces trail, Hunter & Allen 726; Quebrada La Palma, Dodge {! Allen 17358. CHIRIQUI: Boquete, Woodson d Schery 72I; Llanos del Volcain, Seibert 324, 351. COCLE : Aguadulce, Pittier 486i; Penonome, Williams 100. PANAMA: Chepo, Pittier 4760; Taboga Island, Standley 27052.
Note This interesting "plant oddity" is well known for its ability to quickly fold and droop its leaves with contact or other stimuli. Walking through a field of "sensitive plant" in the tropics one can look back and easily discern the path taken because of the altered position of the leaves brushed against. The plant shows a similar response to darkness or disturbance by rainfall. It is frequently kept as a curiosity, both in the tropics and in greenhouses of temperate climates. The species is abundant in open lowland areas in Panama, but also occurs at higher elevations. It is similar to M. polydactyla, and is distinguishable from the Mexican M. a/fibis only by a difference in legume setae.
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