Mimosa pudica

PLANT NAME: Mimosa pudica L.

COMMON NAMES: Hilahila (“shy”) [Hawai'i]; sensitive plant, sleeping grass [English]; han xiu cao [China]; betguen sosa [Guam]; chami [Peru]; cogadrogadro [Fiji]; lajjalu [India]; lajwania [Indo-Fijiian]; mechiuaiu [Palau]; ra kau pikikaa [Cook Islands]; sulinit [Borneo]; tchua tchu zaw [Hmong - Laos].

FAMILY: Fabaceae.

STATUS IN HAWAI’I: Alien. High pest factor. Get rid of it! The sharp thorns make short work of unprotected feet. Wear gloves when gathering.

HABITAT: Full sun, well-drained soil, disturbed areas, and lawns. Anywhere people walk barefoot.

TOXICITY: There is some chronic toxicity. The dried plant is reportedly toxic to cattle.

CAUTIONS AND CONTRAINDICATIONS: Use only under professional supervision and not for extended periods of time. Not in pregnancy.Mimosa pudica thorns can harbor the fungus Fonsecaea pedrosoi, a cause of chromoblastomycosis. Not that you would, but don’t walk barefoot on hilahila.

NOTES ‘N QUOTES

Nitrogen fixer.
This beautiful and aggravating garden pest seems to find its way into most Hawaiian yards at one time or another. Its most interesting characteristic is the way the leaves fold shut when touched.