University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture

Page View

Thornton, Robert John (1768?-1837) / Temple of Flora, or, Garden of the botanist, poet, painter, and philosopher.

Mimosa Grandiflora; or, Large-Flowering Sensitive Plant.

THIS most elegant shrub is native of the East Indies.          It was first
introduced info our
gardens in 1769, by Mr. Norman.  It is found frequent in mountainous districts:
hence one
of the natives gazing at, and admiring its flowers.  It sleeps at regular
periods, by closing its
two corresponding leaflets together; and the flowers are so rapid in their
growth, as to give to
them also the appearance of spontaneous motion, Nature having well dissembled
in this tribe
of vegetables the high attributes of sensation, and of action.  Growing to
the size of a mode-
rate tree, it is not armed with spines as many of its congeners, nor does
it possess, like the
Mimosa Pudica (the common Sensitive Plant), the power of retracting its branches,
so as
to set the whole plant into general motion upon the rude approach of an invader.
honey, it gives a delightful food to the humming bird, and Nature has been
so anxious for the
preservation of this tribe, that besides multiplying the number of males
(stamina) to one pistillum
or female, there are also several of its flowers which possess only a cluster
of males.  Hence it
arranges in the Class XXIII. POLYGAMIA, Order I. MONOECIA, of Linnaeus. 
    It is thus per-
sonified by the late Dr. Darwin.
Fill'd with nice sense the chaste MIMOSA stands,
From each rude touch withdraws her timid hands :
Oft, as light clouds o'erpass the summer glade,
Alarm'd she trembles at the moving shade;'
And feels, alive through all her tender form,
The whisper'd murmurs of the gathering storm;
Shuts her sweet eyelids to approaching night,
And hails with freshen'd charms the rising light.
Now many a suitor woos the blushing maid,
Each swears by him she ne'er will be betray'd.
At last, she melts, and sighs, in verdant bow'rs,
And yields to Cupid's all-triumphant pow'rs.-
So hapless Desdemona, fair and young,
Won by Othello's captivating tongue,
Hung o'er each strange and piteous tale, distrest,
Then sunk enamour'd on his sooty breast.
- Desdemona is represented by Shakepeare, as one so chaste, "as to tremble
even at the sight of her own shadow."

Go up to Top of Page