Small spheres sometimes appear within this bag, and the whole generally soon divides into two or more spheres, which repeatedly coalesce and redivide. After a longer or shorter time the granules in the colourless layer of protoplasm, which flows round the walls, are drawn to and unite with the larger spheres, or form small independent spheres; these latter being of a much paler colour, and more brittle than the first aggregated masses. After the granules of protoplasm have been thus attracted, the layer of flowing protoplasm can no longer be distinguished, though a current of limpid fluid still flows round the walls.

If a leaf is immersed in a very strong, almost concentrated, solution of carbonate of ammonia, the glands are instantly blackened, and they secrete copiously; but no movement of the tentacles ensues. Two leaves thus treated became after 1 hr. flaccid, and seemed killed; all the cells in their tentacles contained spheres of protoplasm, but these were small and discoloured. Two other leaves were placed in a solution not quite so strong, and there was well-marked aggregation in 30 m. After 24 hrs. the spherical or more commonly oblong masses of protoplasm became opaque and granular, instead of being as usual translucent; and in the lower cells there were only innumerable minute spherical granules. It was evident that the strength of the solution had interfered with the completion of the process, as we shall see likewise follows from too great heat.

All the foregoing observations relate to the exterior tentacles, which are of a purple colour; but the green pedicels of the short central tentacles are acted on by the carbonate, and by an infusion of raw meat, in exactly the same manner, with the sole difference that the aggregated masses are of a greenish colour; so that the process is in no way dependent on the colour of the fluid within the cells.

Finally, the most remarkable fact with respect to this salt is the extraordinary small amount which suffices to cause aggregation. Full details will be given in the seventh chapter, and here it will be enough to say that with a sensitive leaf the absorption by a gland of 1/134400 of a grain (.000482 mgr.) is enough to cause in the course of one hour well-marked aggregation in the cells immediately beneath the gland.

The Effects of certain other Salts and Fluids.--Two leaves were placed in a solution of one part of acetate of ammonia to about [page 49] 146 of water, and were acted on quite as energetically, but perhaps not quite so quickly, as by the carbonate. After 10 m. the glands were black, and in the cells beneath them there were traces of aggregation, which after 15 m. was well marked, extending down the tentacles for a length equal to that of the glands. After 2 hrs. the contents of almost all the cells in all the tentacles were broken up into masses of protoplasm. A leaf was immersed in a solution of one part of oxalate of ammonia to 146 of water; and after 24 m. some, but not a conspicuous, change could be seen within the cells beneath the glands. After 47 m. plenty of spherical masses of protoplasm were formed, and these extended down the tentacles for about the length of the glands. This salt, therefore, does not act so quickly as the carbonate. With respect to the citrate of ammonia, a leaf was placed in a little solution of the above strength, and there was not even a trace of aggregation in the cells beneath the glands, until 56 m. had elapsed; but it was well marked after 2 hrs. 20 m. On another occasion a leaf was placed in a stronger solution, of one part of the citrate to 109 of water (4 grs. to 1 oz.), and at the same time another leaf in a solution of the carbonate of the same strength. The glands of the latter were blackened in less than 2 m., and after 1 hr. 45 m. the aggregated masses, which were spherical and very dark-coloured, extended down all the tentacles, for between half and two-thirds of their lengths; whereas in the leaf immersed in the citrate the glands, after 30 m., were of a dark red, and the aggregated masses in the cells beneath them pink and elongated.

Insectivorous Plants Page 25

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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