Plants model obedience, sensitivity

2013-08-06 08:19
Environment. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Environment. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York - There are two plants whose behaviour makes me think back to when my daughter was a teenager.

Those years can be turbulent ones for kids and parents alike, and these plants might offer a lesson, a distraction — or at least a smile.

The first - obedience plant - models behaviour that gardening parents might wish they saw more of. Obedience plant (Physostegia virginiana) gets its name for how well the flowers obey. Point the flower stalk in the desired direction - for example, all facing outwards in a vase - and they stay put. No muttering or eye-rolling.

Besides being a good listener, obedience plant is pretty. Its flowering wands rise 1m to 1.2m high, each closely studded along the top portion with tubular, lipped blossoms that are lavender pink with darker speckles.

Some varieties have white or deep rose flowers, dwarf stature, or leaves that are speckled white and green. The plant makes a pleasing contrast in form to neighbouring phloxes or tall asters in similar colour shades.

Discipline

Obedience plant is a hardy, native perennial eager to spread via running roots. It's not especially hard to discipline in its spread, though.

New stems with attached roots readily come free if given a sharp yank when the soil is moist in spring or fall. And if you need more obedience, just poke these severed parts into new ground, where they quickly take hold. They're not finicky about soil but do like sun.

Parents, take note: My plant never obeyed - in fact, it snapped - until I learned not to bend the whole flower stalk at once, but to work with each flower individually.

The other plant is "sensitive plant" (Mimosa pudica), which gets its name from the way its leaflets rapidly collapse along their midribs at the slightest touch. The response travels through the plant in a wave of motion after one leaf is touched.

Sensitive plant is an annual that's easy and quick to grow from seed. The flowers, looking like small, pink bottlebrushes, are attractive. The plant itself, like a sensitive teenager, is awkwardly branching, hairy and prickly, but lovable and fun nonetheless.

What benefit does this "fainting" mechanism offer the sensitive plant? It could be a way to fend off predators: A hungry insect might be frightened away by the plant's rapid collapse, and a hungry mammal turned off at the unappetising appearance of the apparently bare stems.

Either way, the plant wants to be left alone. Sound familiar, parents?
Read more on:    environment

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Man scores date with tennis superstar after Twitter bet

It’s a modern day Cinderella story, but one American man took ‘shoot your shot’ seriously in 2017.

 
 

You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.