Many plants are famed for their putrid smells, and it has been known for decades that unpleasant sulphurous odours are released when soil is disturbed around the roots of some plants – including members of the Mimosa genus. Until now, it has been assumed that these odours are released passively as a result of tissue damage, like when a bay leaf is crushed or onions are cut with a knife.

But Musah has found that the roots of some species actively release their foul smell. Her team made this discovery while growing seedlings of Mimosa pudica, known for its sensitive leaves that fold up when touched.