Biophytum sensitivum

Family: Oxalidaceae

Countries: Africa, Asia, India, South Africa

Biophytum sensitivum is an amazing plant!  Biophytum sensitivum originates from India and South Africa, where it can be found growing in wet, boggy soils near streams and waterfalls, where it is shaded by taller trees and shrubs.

Biophytum sensitivum is such an interesting, fascinating plant!  Resembling a miniature palm tree, the leaves of Biophytum sensitivum fold downwards, with their branches moving slightly upwards at night.  The plant’s leaves will also close if the leaves are touched, or if the plant is suffering from stress.

Biophytum sensitivum thrives when grown in constantly moist soil or compost, in a very humid environment, in shaded conditions or under low, diffused, filtered light, in warm temperatures, from 18C (64F) and above.  This is a tender plant that needs warm temperatures to flourish.  Biophytum sensitivum plants are likely to be killed by temperatures below 15C (59F).

Biophytum sensitivum produces numerous flowers in a variety of colours, from yellow, pink, orange, and white.

As the Biophytum sensitivum flowers begin to fade their beautiful, star-shaped seed pods start to develop.  As soon as the seeds have ripened, the plant projects the seeds outwards, meaning that if you want to collect seed from this plant, you need to be prepared!  To contain and collect the seeds, gently tie a muslin bag over the ripening seed pods to allow you to collect the seeds and prevent the plants from self-seeding.  I find that self-seeded Biophytum sensitivum plants are much smaller in size and stature than Biophytum sensitivum plants grown from seed in containers or plants that are raised from seed in an area where they can have space to grow with the ideal lighting and growing conditions.

Biophytum sensitivum plants produce many healing compounds and are widely used in Indian, traditional, and Western medicine.

Biophytum sensitivum is an annual plant, which may live longer than a year, but this plant is likely to die very suddenly after producing seed.  It’s worth collecting seed, so that you can propagate your own replacement plants.

Biophytum sensitivum grows from 15cm – 30cm (6″ – 12″) tall.

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