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Observations placeholder

Watson, Lyall - The sensitivity of Mimosa Pudica



Type of Spiritual Experience


Mimosa Pudica’s behaviour can be explained in terms of survival value.  A sudden movement is quite likely to disturb a potential insect pest.

In ‘hardware’ terms  - the hardware input trigger to the process [like the click of  a mouse] is an insect landing on a leaf or another form of attack to the plant, the hardware effect [like the image on a  screen] is leaf droop.  In this explanation, the process is described as being ‘electrical’.   The plant is thought of as a sort of machine that somehow works by electricity.

Well it might.  Hardware operates by electricity too.  You cannot run a computer without electricity, the communication which takes place between its components and circuit boards is achieved by electrical signal and that electricity is derived from a power source.

If we now think of natural things such as living or inanimate objects as hardware, it is not beyond reason to say that all these things, not just plants or human beings, need power to operate too. But in system terms we are still missing one vital explanation – even with electricity as the communication stimulus or even the ‘power’ to do the processing, it still doesn’t  explain how the process works.

We still have no process description, no instructions, no functions, no ‘software’.

A description of the experience

Lyall Watson – The Dreams of Dragons

Perhaps the touchiest of all vegetables is the sensitive plant Mimosa pudica.  Any contact with the rows of leaflets sends them folding up like fans.  A hard knock against the stem makes whole leaves droop and an overt injury can result in the complete collapse of an entire mimosa bush.  This behaviour has been familiar since it was first recorded by Chinese scholars over two thousand years ago, but it is only in this decade that we have begun to understand it.  A group led by Barbara Pickard at Washington University has shown how the movement begins with an action potential – a short lived negatively charged electrical wave that signals to the rest of the plant that all is not well.

In some less advanced plants, this serves merely to isolate an injured area while repairs are underway.  In others such as the tomato, the whole plant responds by closing its stomata – the little windows through which the plant breathes – helping in this way to conserve moisture until the wound is healed.  But in a select few species the whole plant takes dramatic avoiding action.  Mimosa purdica has become so sensitive that it responds to changes in temperature, direction and intensity of light, electric shock, cuts, burns and even changes in atmospheric pressure.  It is rumoured that a Mimosa at Kew Gardens in London was touched so often by curious visitors that it had a nervous breakdown and shed all its leaves!

The source of the experience

Watson, Lyall

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