As a child growing up and living in the country side, roaming outside wasn't just something to do when electricity was off - or complain about if you happened to use MTN. Ok, bad joke but couldn't resist. It was something you wanted to do because it was so much fun. From baking the most elaborate mud cakes, to catching butterflies and fireflies, and being chased by the occasionally ornery goat - or what ever other animal that chose to do so - picking flowers was also a good way to spend the time. I soon learned early enough that flowers that could be picked for this purpose should NOT include the ones my mother planted!
The mimosa pudica grows wild in the Jamaican countryside and can be found almost everywhere. Most of you may not know it by it's scientific name - neither did I until a few minutes ago - but yes, it's that plant that folds up when you touch it. Known worldwide by such names as ' sensitive plant', 'humble plant', 'sleeping plant' and 'touch me not' you can imagine my surprise when I found out the similarities in names for this plant between Jamaica and Ghana! In Jamaica we refer to it as 'shame old lady'. In an interesting reversal in explicitness, Ghanaians refer to this plant as ' shame old lady cover your p***y! Needless to say had a good laugh. Seems we are not the only ones with a sexual connotation to this though, as in Thailand it is called ' shut thighs'. Interesting, uh?
What is actually even more interesting is that this plant can actually be bought on e-bay for a mere USD 6! Found that out when I was googling to see what other names it was known by. Can you imagine? There is untold wealth just in your backyard. Literally that is. Seems quite a few people are in the market for emotional plants. One can't help but wonder why. Did find out too that it has medicinal purposes including promoting the regeneration of nerves and treating depression.
Think for now I will just be contented to smile each time I see the plant and remember the Ghanaian name. Or better, still touch the leaves, watch them fold up ever so gently and remember my childhood.
picture : wikipedia