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The Legend Of The Shy Plant Mimosa Pudica

Precy loves to write about many topics, including Filipino culture, legends and traditions.

Mimosa pudica - Known as the shy plant or  shameplant.

Mimosa pudica - Known as the shy plant or shameplant.

As expected, my uncle was out in his yard tending his vegetable garden one time we visited him after stopping by to their yearly parish fiesta. As always the bitter melons, eggplants, tomatoes and the bacopa monniere are present in his backyard. His papaya tree is now flowering and already bearing young fruits. But there's something new this year in his collection of plants. He had successfully germinated some shy plant or what we call as makahiya, known for closing and reopening its leaves when touched.

This shy plant is considered as weed in the Philippines and seeing the young bashful plants triggered happy farm-life memories back in the homeland. Sprouting almost everywhere with thorns, it could be a nuisance. I had my share of getting pricked walking aimlessly in the field and vegetable garden as they grow in the path leading to the area. Not only that these plants withstand drought but it's interesting to watch the leaves fold every time someone walks on the path, only to unfold after few minutes. But how and why does the leaves of mimosa pudica folds and unfolds when touched? This legend from the Philippines could probably explain why.

This plant closes its leaves when touched. A bashful plant indeed.

This plant closes its leaves when touched. A bashful plant indeed.

A long time ago, there was a young girl named Maria. Maria was twelve years old. She was from a wealthy family and her parents loves her so dearly.

Maria at her young age was a very responsible and obedient child. She obeys her parents all the time. Because she's diligent and kind, people around her loves her. Maria gets along with anyone who would approach her and speak to her. But Maria has a distinct character that is very different from the one's mentioned. She is very bashful.

Talking to people makes Maria feel uncomfortable. She would rather stay at home and she always locks herself in her room just to avoid being seen or being in a crowd.

Maria has a flower garden. She loves being around flowers. There in her garden, she grows all kinds of plants that bear beautiful flowers. She was always patient with the plants and tended them with love. Tending her garden gives Maria contentment and happiness. She can be herself in her garden. There, she doesn't have to worry about being around with people. The townspeople knows about Maria's garden. Who wouldn't? Healthy, beautiful flowering plants grow in the young girl's garden.

A news spread in their town one day about a group of bandit that raided the neighboring towns. The people were killed with their moolahs taken away by the bandits.

So it wasn't a surprise when the bandits came to their town one unexpected day. Dondong, Maria's father saw the approaching bandits and had a quick thinking of hiding their daughter Maria in the garden to keep her safe.

Meanwhile, Dondong's wife, Iska, decided to stay inside their home and found a spot to hide while waiting for her husband Dondong to come back. She was so scared hearing the bandits as they forcefully tried to open their door. All she could do at that moment is utter a prayer as she doesn't know what could happen at those very moment.

"My God please, please keep our daughter safe. Keep her hidden from those bandits!" Maria's mother solemnly prayed in her hiding spot. Minutes later, Dondong came back from the garden while the bandits were trying so hard to get inside their home.

Their door broke open and few bandits came in to their home. One of the bandits hit Dondong in the head which caused Maria's father to lost consciousness. Iska tried to ran away but before she could even reach for the door, the same bandit hit her on the head. The bad guys explored their home and took all their goods. Their money and jewelries were also taken. Everything they could take, they took it. They also looked for the young girl but they couldn't find Maria. So they decided to just leave and continue on robbing the neighborhood before getting on the next town to do the same thing.

The bandits were already gone when the couple finally gained their consciousness. They hurriedly went in the garden to check on their daughter but there was no Maria waiting for them. They looked everywhere. They went and looked on each corner of the garden, on every shrubs where Maria could hide but they cannot find her. Did the bandit find Maria and took her away?

"My daughter! They took away my daughter!" Iska said as she hysterically cried to her husband.

Suddenly, Dondong felt he got pricked on the feet. He probably had stepped into something. He gasped as he saw a strange, small plant that is swiftly closing its tiny leaves. This was the first time he saw a plant like this. Dondong knelt and looked at the plant closely. His wife did the same thing.

After a very long time of looking at the now completely closed leaves of the strange plant, the couple believed that it was their daughter Maria. God had transformed their daughter into a plant in order to save her from the bandits. The couple couldn't help but cry and every tears that they shed on the strange plant becomes a small, round, rosy colored flower.

Iska and Dondong took care of the strange plant that they found in Maria's garden since that day. They both strongly believed it was indeed Maria. Why is that? Just like Maria, the sensitive plant seems too bashful to the world around, closing and reopening it's leaves to the touch. Maria's distinct character indeed, bashfulness.

The strange plant got its own name from Dondong and Iska. They named the plant makahiya, from the word "hiya," the Filipino word for bashfulness.

A flower of the sensitive plant (mimosa pudica) also known as shy plant or touch-me-not plant.

A flower of the sensitive plant (mimosa pudica) also known as shy plant or touch-me-not plant.

Other Names Mimosa Pudica is Known For

Mimosa pudica or known as the shy plant and referred to as sensitive plant has other names it is known for. Some calls this shy plant as touch-me-not, sleeping grass, ant-plant, and shame plant. It is also known as chuimui in Hindi and as makahiya in the Philippines.

This shy plant is grown for its curiosity value. Its leaves, after folding inward will droop and re-open minutes later. It is also interesting that this sensitive plant will close its leaves at dark and will open again the next day.

Young mimosa pudica or shy plant growing in a pot.

Young mimosa pudica or shy plant growing in a pot.

Up for a quiz?

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. So, how did this unusual plant earned its name?
    • From the first person who discovered the plant.
    • From being a bashful plant.
    • From a scientist.
  2. Why would Maria locked herself in her room?
    • When she's in a bad mood.
    • She's bashful. She'd rather stay home, locking herself in her room.
    • A couple claiming they're her real parents would take her.
  3. Who was Dondong and Iska?
    • Maria's grandparents.
    • They're Maria's parents.
    • Concerned neighbors.
  4. Did the bandits got the 12 year old girl?
    • Yes. But her parents believed she was transformed into a plant.
    • No. They didn't found her.
    • No. Her parents believed Maria was transformed into a shy plant.
  5. The Filipino name for this shy plant?
    • Shameful plant.
    • Chuimui.
    • Makahiya.

Answer Key

  1. From being a bashful plant.
  2. She's bashful. She'd rather stay home, locking herself in her room.
  3. They're Maria's parents.
  4. No. Her parents believed Maria was transformed into a shy plant.
  5. Makahiya.

The legend was translated into English from takdangaralin website.

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