Plants That Close their Leaves at Night – Nyctinasty – Oxalis and Others

Plants that close their leaves at night are interesting to look at, but have you ever wondered why they do this?Nyctinastic plants are plants that close up at night

Have you ever walked out into your garden in the early morning, or early evening and seen that the leaves or flowers of some of your favorite plants are closed up?  

Don’t worry – there is nothing wrong with them. It is just nyctinastic movement at work. Plants that open and close their leaves or flowers when day changes to night are called nyctinastic plants.

Why do plants close their leaves at night?

Plants move in different ways. For some it is just a “blowing in the wind way.” But for others, the movement is intentional, as in plant tendrils grabbing poles to climb on.

Another example of plant movement is nyctinasty – closure of the leaves entirely.Touching a sensitive plant

Nyctinasty is the movement of leaves and some flowers that happens in response to changes around them.

Think of it in human terms and circadian rhythms.  We sleep in response to the change of night and day but plants don’t sleep. They just take a little breather from the light.

Types of nastic movement in plants

Nyctinasty is just one type of nastic movement in plants (reversible and repeatable movements in response to stimuli that is part of a plant’s make-up.) 

The Venus fly try eating bugs is another example of nastic movement in plants.

List of plants that close their leaves at night

Not all plants close up in response to low light. Those that do fall into the category of annuals, perennials, vegetables and more. Here are some plants that do:

Legumessweet peas

The legume or pea family has many members that close up their leaves or flowers at night. Some example are:

Flowering plants that are nyctinastic

Many annual, perennial and bulb plants have leaves or flowers that open and close in response to light. Here are a few examples:Flowers that close at night

Trees and Shrubs that close up their leaves and flowers at night

Here are a few trees with nastic movements in response to light:magnolia flowers

  • Magnolia
  • Mimosa pudica – also known as a sensitive plant or mimicry plant
  • Rose of Sharon

Houseplants and Tropical Plants that close up their leaves at night

There are several tropical plants are commonly grown as houseplants in less temperate hardiness zones. Some have the habit of closing up at night. One popular one is the prayer plant.Maranta plant leaves

The whole Arrow root family of which Marantaceae is a member all close their leaves at night. Maranta, also known as the prayer plant.

Have you experienced other plants that open and close their leaves or flowers in response to day and night? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Pin these Nyctinastic Plants for later.

Would you like a list of these plants that close up at night? Just pin this image to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.Plants that close up at night

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  3 comments for “Plants That Close their Leaves at Night – Nyctinasty – Oxalis and Others

  1. Vanessa
    07/02/2020 at 7:18 am

    I have found that my large Alocasia elephant ears plants seems to do the same. It raises its leaves up at night so that they’re closer together and then during the day and I can see the leaves separate a bit more.

  2. Sarah
    09/08/2020 at 4:07 pm

    Honeysuckle locust tree leaves do this

    • Carol Speake
      09/09/2020 at 4:38 pm

      thanks for the tip Sarah.

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