Early Science and Medicine 23 (5-6):420-443 (2018)

The history of early modern botany is studded with stories of discovery, identification, recognition, and accommodation. One of these stories refers to the plant known to early modern observers as ‘sensitive plant’ and mimosa pudica. Because of its tendency to fold its leaves when they are touched by an external agent, the plant was the subject of investigations that ranged from philosophical discussions on the nature of movement, perception and appetite to inquiries into the most general cycles of life. In this article, I show how the taxonomic, terminological, geographic and cultural profile of the mimosa emerged over the course of three centuries of discoveries, observations and discussions, from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries.
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DOI 10.1163/15733823-02356p02
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