20 m., and in another after 1 hr. 50 m. With other leaves a considerably longer time was required: for instance, one immersed for 5 hrs. showed no aggregation, but was plainly acted on in 5 m.; when placed in a few drops of a solution of one part of carbonate of ammonia to 146 of water. Some leaves were left in the infusion for 24 hrs., and these became aggregated to a wonderful degree, so that the inflected tentacles presented to the naked eye a plainly mottled appearance. The little masses of purple protoplasm were generally oval or beaded, and not nearly so often spherical as in the case of leaves subjected to carbonate of ammonia. They underwent incessant changes of form; and the current of colourless protoplasm round the walls was conspicuously plain after an immersion of 25 hrs. Raw meat is too powerful a stimulant, and even small bits generally injure, and sometimes kill, the leaves to which they are given: the aggregated masses of protoplasm become dingy or almost colourless, and present an unusual granular appearance, as is likewise the case with leaves which have been immersed in a very strong solution of carbonate of ammonia. A leaf placed in milk had the contents of its cells somewhat aggregated in 1 hr. Two other leaves, one immersed in human saliva for 2 hrs. 30 m., and another in unboiled white of egg for 1 hr. 30 m., were not action on in this manner; though they undoubtedly would have been so, had more time been allowed. These same two leaves, on being afterwards placed in a solution of carbonate of ammonia (3 grs. to 1 oz.), had their cells aggregated, the one in 10 m. and the other in 5 m.

Several leaves were left for 4 hrs. 30 m. in a solution of one part of white sugar to 146 of water, and no aggregation ensued; on being placed in a solution of this same strength of carbonate of ammonia, they were acted on in 5 m.; as was likewise a leaf which had been left for 1 hr. 45 m. in a moderately thick solution of gum arabic. Several other leaves were immersed for some hours in denser solutions of sugar, gum, and starch, and they had the contents of their cells greatly aggregated. This [page 52] effect may be attributed to exosmose; for the leaves in the syrup became quite flaccid, and those in the gum and starch somewhat flaccid, with their tentacles twisted about in the most irregular manner, the longer ones like corkscrews. We shall hereafter see that solutions of these substances, when placed on the discs of leaves, do not incite inflection. Particles of soft sugar were added to the secretion round several glands and were soon dissolved, causing a great increase of the secretion, no doubt by exosmose; and after 24 hrs. the cells showed a certain amount of aggregation, though the tentacles were not inflected. Glycerine causes in a few minutes well-pronounced aggregation, commencing as usual within the glands and then travelling down the tentacles; and this I presume may be attributed to the strong attraction of this substance for water. Immersion for several hours in water causes some degree of aggregation. Twenty leaves were first carefully examined, and re-examined after having been left immersed in distilled water for various periods, with the following results. It is rare to find even a trace of aggregation until 4 or 5 and generally not until several more hours have elapsed. When however a leaf becomes quickly inflected in water, as sometimes happens, especially during very warm weather, aggregation may occur in little over 1 hr. In all cases leaves left in water for more than 24 hrs. have their glands blackened, which shows that their contents are aggregated; and in the specimens which were carefully examined, there was fairly well-marked aggregation in the upper cells of the pedicels. These trials were made with cut off-leaves, and it occurred to me that this circumstance might influence the result, as the footstalks would not perhaps absorb water quickly enough to supply the glands as they continued to secrete. But this view was proved erroneous, for a plant with uninjured roots, bearing four leaves, was submerged in distilled water for 47 hrs., and the glands were blackened, though the tentacles were very little inflected.

Insectivorous Plants Page 27

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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