After 1 hr. 45 m. these masses extended down for only about one-fifth or one-fourth of the length of the tentacles.

Two leaves were placed, each in ten minims of a solution of one part of nitrate of ammonia to 5250 of water (1 gr. to 12 oz.), so that each leaf received 1/576 of a grain (.1124 mgr.). This quantity caused all the tentacles to be inflected, but after 24 hrs. there was only a trace of aggregation. One of these same leaves was then placed in a weak solution of the carbonate, and after 1 hr. 45 m. the tentacles for half their lengths showed an astonishing degree of aggregation. Two other leaves were then placed in a much stronger solution of one part of the nitrate to 146 of water (3 grs. to 1 oz.); in one of these there was no marked change after 3 hrs.; but in the other there was a trace of aggregation after 52 m., and this was plainly marked after 1 hr. 22 m., but even after 2 hrs. 12 m. there was certainly not more aggregation than would have fol- [page 50] lowed from an immersion of from 5 m. to 10 m. in an equally strong solution of the carbonate.

Lastly, a leaf was placed in thirty minims of a solution of one part of phosphate of ammonia to 43,750 of water (1 gr. to 100 oz.), so that it received 1/1600 of a grain (.04079 mgr.); this soon caused the tentacles to be strongly inflected; and after 24 hrs. the contents of the cells were aggregated into oval and irregularly globular masses, with a conspicuous current of protoplasm flowing round the walls. But after so long an interval aggregation would have ensued, whatever had caused inflection.

Only a few other salts, besides those of ammonia, were tried in relation to the process of aggregation. A leaf was placed in a solution of one part of chloride of sodium to 218 of water, and after 1 hr. the contents of the cells were aggregated into small, irregularly globular, brownish masses; these after 2 hrs. were almost disintegrated and pulpy. It was evident that the protoplasm had been injuriously affected; and soon afterwards some of the cells appeared quite empty. These effects differ altogether from those produced by the several salts of ammonia, as well as by various organic fluids, and by inorganic particles placed on the glands. A solution of the same strength of carbonate of soda and carbonate of potash acted in nearly the same manner as the chloride; and here again, after 2 hrs. 30 m., the outer cells of some of the glands had emptied themselves of their brown pulpy contents. We shall see in the eighth chapter that solutions of several salts of soda of half the above strength cause inflection, but do not injure the leaves. Weak solutions of sulphate of quinine, of nicotine, camphor, poison of the cobra, &c., soon induce well-marked aggregation; whereas certain other substances (for instance, a solution of curare) have no such tendency.

Many acids, though much diluted, are poisonous; and though, as will be shown in the eighth chapter, they cause the tentacles to bend, they do not excite true aggregation. Thus leaves were placed in a solution of one part of benzoic acid to 437 of water; and in 15 m. the purple fluid within the cells had shrunk a little from the walls, yet when carefully examined after 1 hr. 20 m., there was no true aggregation; and after 24 hrs. the leaf was evidently dead. Other leaves in iodic acid, diluted to the same degree, showed after 2 hrs. 15 m. the same shrunken appearance of the purple fluid within the cells; and these, after 6 hrs. 15 m., were seen under a high power to be filled with excessively minute spheres of dull reddish protoplasm, [page 51] which by the next morning, after 24 hrs., had almost disappeared, the leaf being evidently dead. Nor was there any true aggregation in leaves immersed in propionic acid of the same strength; but in this case the protoplasm was collected in irregular masses towards the bases of the lower cells of the tentacles.

A filtered infusion of raw meat induces strong aggregation, but not very quickly. In one leaf thus immersed there was a little aggregation after 1 hr.

Insectivorous Plants Page 26

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Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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