It does not appear probable that pure water would cause much exosmose, and yet aggregation often follows from an immersion in water of between 16 hrs. and 24 hrs., and always after from 24 hrs. to 48 hrs. Still less probable is it that water at a temperature of from 125o to 130o Fahr. (51o.6 to 54o.4 Cent.) should cause fluid to pass, not only from the glands, but from all the cells of the tentacles down to their bases, so quickly that aggregation is induced within 2 m. or 3 m. Another strong argument against this view is, that, after complete aggregation, the spheres and oval masses of protoplasm float about in an abundant supply of thin colourless fluid; so that at least the latter stages of the process cannot be due to the want of fluid to hold the protoplasm in solution. There is still stronger evidence that aggregation is independent of secretion; for the papillae, described in the first chapter, with which the [page 57] leaves are studded are not glandular, and do not secrete, yet they rapidly absorb carbonate of ammonia or an infusion of raw meat, and their contents then quickly undergo aggregation, which afterwards spreads into the cells of the surrounding tissues. We shall hereafter see that the purple fluid within the sensitive filaments of Dionaea, which do not secrete, likewise undergoes aggregation from the action of a weak solution of carbonate of ammonia.

The process of aggregation is a vital one; by which I mean that the contents of the cells must be alive and uninjured to be thus affected, and they must be in an oxygenated condition for the transmission of the process at the proper rate. Some tentacles in a drop of water were strongly pressed beneath a slip of glass; many of the cells were ruptured, and pulpy matter of a purple colour, with granules of all sizes and shapes, exuded, but hardly any of the cells were completely emptied. I then added a minute drop of a solution of one part of carbonate of ammonia to 109 of water, and after 1 hr. examined the specimens. Here and there a few cells, both in the glands and in the pedicels, had escaped being ruptured, and their contents were well aggregated into spheres which were constantly changing their forms and positions, and a current could still be seen flowing along the walls; so that the protoplasm was alive. On the other hand, the exuded matter, which was now almost colourless instead of being purple, did not exhibit a trace of aggregation. Nor was there a trace in the many cells which were ruptured, but which had not been completely emptied of their contents. Though I looked carefully, no signs of a current could be seen within these ruptured cells. They had evidently been killed by the pressure; and the matter which they [page 58] still contained did not undergo aggregation any more than that which had exuded. In these specimens, as I may add, the individuality of the life of each cell was well illustrated.

A full account will be given in the next chapter of the effects of heat on the leaves, and I need here only state that leaves immersed for a short time in water at a temperature of 120oFahr. (48o.8 Cent.), which, as we have seen, does not immediately induce aggregation, were then placed in a few drops of a strong solution of one part of carbonate of ammonia to 109 of water, and became finely aggregated. On the other hand, leaves, after an immersion in water at 150o (65o.5 Cent.), on being placed in the same strong solution, did not undergo aggregation, the cells becoming filled with brownish, pulpy, or muddy matter. With leaves subjected to temperatures between these two extremes of 120o and 150o Fahr. (48o.8 and 65o.5 Cent.), there were gradations in the completeness of the process; the former temperature not preventing aggregation from the subsequent action of carbonate of ammonia, the latter quite stopping it. Thus, leaves immersed in water, heated to 130o (54o.4 Cent.), and then in the solution, formed perfectly defined spheres, but these were decidedly smaller than in ordinary cases.

Insectivorous Plants Page 30

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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