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Weird and Wonderful Wednesday: The Dancing Plant

Dancing plant

Not strictly a flower in this week’s weird-and-wonderful, but with a name like the dancing plant, we couldn’t resist featuring Desmodium gyrans.

A first glance at this plant and you wouldn’t think you were looking at anything uncommon – as evidenced by the picture at the top of the page. It looks a lot like any shrubbery (all together now … “a shrrrrrubbery?”) which you might wander past at the side of the road, particularly in a more tropical climate.

Telegraph plant

But then, if you stop and watch for a while, you’ll realise that something very different is going on. Every hedgerow moves; in the wind, or when a passing animal causes it to tremble. But not every hedgerow moves of it’s own accord…

…Much less dances.

Also known as the ‘telegraph plant’, the leaflets of D. gyrans will roatate on their axes, drooping downwards at night to conserve energy, but twitching to face the sunlight during the day. Experts don’t believe that the plant actually ‘dances’ to music, but that the movements are caused by water molecules moving through motor cells inside the plant.

Of course, the best way to see the Desmodium’s most famous feature is in a video. So here you go!

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