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Sensitive Brier

by Valerie (May 23, 2000)
revised August 21, 2003
sensitive brier blossoms & budssensitive brier blossoms
Almost everyone is familiar with the commonly kept potted plant called sensitive plant or touch-me-not, which closes its leaves when touched. It is a type of shrub that is not very cold-hardy and so doesn't grow wild in most of this country. We do have an equivalent plant called the sensitive brier (Schrankia uncinata), since its habit is to sprawl along the ground like other prickly vines and briers. Just like the sensitive plant, this brier has small pink puffy flowers and touch-responsive leaves. It also has small thorns, and so it has another line of defence against anything brushing against it.

sensitive brier young seed pods & leaves
The sensitive brier seems to grow well in all conditions: hot, dry, sunny, shady, and well-watered. I've seen it growing in lawns, on precarious cliffs, and in rocky soil. It came up unassisted in one of our shaded gardens and does very well every year, producing a procession of lovely pink flowers as it twines around the other plants. I also transplanted one of the thick roots to a sunny area and, although slower to grow there, it is also thriving.

The pink blossoms are actually a cluster of many flowers, each having tiny, hidden petals and prominent pink stamens with yellow tips. In keeping with the plant's prickly nature, even the seed pods are covered with tiny thorns.

To see the result of touching the leaves, move your computer's mouse over the picture below.

sensitive brier leaves

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