Before you start thinking this is just some novelty plant you should know that scientists have been studying the Music Tree for centuries – since before Darwin.
Darwin named the plant Hedysarum and today botanists call it Desmodium Gyrans.
It goes by a variety of common names including the Music Tree, the Dancing Plant, Dancing Grass, the Telegraphy Plant or the Semaphore Plant.
The Dancing Tree literally dances when it hears music and if you’re so inclined you can also make a nutritious tea from its leaves, which are loaded with antioxidants.
But most people just like this plant because it can boogie!
Native to the jungles of Taiwan, the Music Tree is actually a hybrid that’s been cross-bred continuously for decades to bring out its musical abilities. In the beginning, the species that responded to music was very rare and more common species responded to touch, particularly rainfall, or sunlight, closing up their leaves when the sun went down. Darwin actually spent years working with the plants trying to train them to act independently. Instead of reacting to nightfall by closing up their leaves, Darwin tried to teach the plants that they could close up their leaves any time they wanted. Though he worked with the plants for years he never had any success.
In the meantime, the Dancing Plant was nearly extinct so botanists chose the more sensitive plants and crossbred them for hardiness and an ear for music, giving us the Music Tree that we all know and love today.
The Music Tree is a tropical plant so unless you live in a tropical climate it’s best grown indoors as a houseplant. It prefers temperatures between 71 and 95 degrees and it likes a sunny location near a window.
Music plants also seem to dance more when the lights are on and believe it or not, each seems to have a different taste in music. So if your plant doesn’t dance to hip-hop try some old time Rock and Roll!
This is a very easy plant to grow from seeds. Simply prepare a container that has proper drainage and fill it with a good potting soil mixture. Sow the seeds on top and cover with about 1/8-inch of potting soil. Carefully water so as not to disturb the seeds. Place your container in a sunny, warm location and you should see sprouts appear in as little as 7 days.
You can move your plant outside during the summer months if you want it to get some fresh air, but it’s not necessary. And if you do, make sure to bring it in before it starts to get cold again.
Keep the soil moist at all times – but not overly saturated. Music Plants like moist soil but they’re Dancers, not swimmers!