Desmodium gyrans (syn. Codariocalyx motorius) | ‘Dancing Plant’, ‘Semaphore Plant’, ‘Telegraph Plant’ | 25 seeds
Desmodium gyrans (more properly now known as Codariocalyx motorius) is a fascinating tropical shrub which grows widely across the Asian continent, for example in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Taiwan and Vietnam. Known variously as the ‘Dancing Plant’, ‘Semaphore Plant’ or ‘Telegraph Plant’, the species is notable as one of only relatively few plants that can effect rapid movement (others include the ‘Sensitive Plant’, Mimosa pudica, and the ‘Venus Flytrap’), with the leaflets reacting to exposure to light or sound waves.
Gyrans grows between two to four feet tall and produces delicate purple flowers and small, hinged, lateral leaflets. Its terminal leaflets spread wide during the day before drooping come nightfall. It is conjectured that these leaflets may move either to absorb light more efficiently or to deter predators. Whatever the purpose of this novel ability, it certainly makes Desmodium gyrans a popular and fun addition to any ornamental garden – it’s even been kept as a dancing bonsai!
It grows best in USDA Zone 10 (or indoors) – ideally in a sandy but evenly-moist loam soil in a full sun environment – with a relative humidity of at least fifty percent and a temperature of between 68˚F-95˚F. A slightly-acidic soil and a clay pot are recommended to encourage a strong and healthy root system, while a diluted fertiliser of 5-5-5 or 7-9-5 can be used every month or so; too much of the latter will result in a softer and less attractive growth pattern. Don’t be afraid to prune the plant if it gets too big for your growing area, as it handles the process quite well and is generally a low-hassle member of the garden!
All the seed sold by Arkham’s Botanical was freshly and ethically sourced in 2018