Finally, it is a remarkable fact that the leaves of Drosera rotundifolia, which flourishes on bleak upland moors throughout Great Britain, and exists (Hooker) within the Arctic Circle, should be able to withstand for even a short time immersion in water heated to a temperature of 145o.

It may be worth adding that immersion in cold

* As the opacity and porcelain-like appearance of the glands is probably due to the coagulation of the albumen, I may add, on the authority of Dr. Burdon Sanderson, that albumen coagulates at about 155o, but, in presence of acids, the temperature of coagulation is lower. The leaves of Drosera contain an acid, and perhaps a difference in the amount contained may account for the slight differences in the results above recorded.

It appears that cold-blooded animals are, as might have been expected, far more sensitive to an increase of temperature than is Drosera. Thus, as I hear from Dr. Burdon Sanderson, a frog begins to be distressed in water at a temperature of only 85o Fahr. At 95o the muscles become rigid, and the animal dies in a stiffened condition. [page 75]

water does not cause any inflection: I suddenly placed four leaves, taken from plants which had been kept for several days at a high temperature, generally about 75o Fahr. (23o.8 Cent.), in water at 45o (7o.2 Cent.), but they were hardly at all affected; not so much as some other leaves from the same plants, which were at the same time immersed in water at 75o; for these became in a slight degree inflected. [page 76]



Non-nitrogenous fluids--Solutions of gum arabic--Sugar--Starch--Diluted alcohol--Olive oil-- Infusion and decoction of tea--Nitrogenous fluids--Milk--Urine--Liquid albumen--Infusion of raw meat--Impure mucus--Saliva--Solution of isinglass--Difference in the action of these two sets of fluids--Decoction of green peas--Decoction and infusion of cabbage--Decoction of grass leaves.

WHEN, in 1860, I first observed Drosera, and was led to believe that the leaves absorbed nutritious matter from the insects which they captured, it seemed to me a good plan to make some preliminary trials with a few common fluids, containing and not containing nitrogenous matter; and the results are worth giving.

In all the following cases a drop was allowed to fall from the same pointed instrument on the centre of the leaf; and by repeated trials one of these drops was ascertained to be on an average very nearly half a minim, or 1/960 of a fluid ounce, or .0295 ml. But these measurements obviously do not pretend to any strict accuracy; moreover, the drops of the viscid fluids were plainly larger than those of water. Only one leaf on the same plant was tried, and the plants were collected from two distant localities. The experiments were made during August and September. In judging of the effects, one caution is necessary: if a drop of any adhesive fluid is placed on an old or feeble leaf, the glands of which have ceased to secrete copiously, the drop sometimes dries up, especially if the plant [page 77] is kept in a room, and some of the central and submarginal tentacles are thus drawn together, giving to them the false appearance of having become inflected. This sometimes occurs with water, as it is rendered adhesive by mingling with the viscid secretion. Hence the only safe criterion, and to this alone I have trusted, is the bending inwards of the exterior tentacles, which have not been touched by the fluid, or at most only at their bases. In this case the movement is wholly due to the central glands having been stimulated by the fluid, and transmitting a motor impulse to the exterior tentacles. The blade of the leaf likewise often curves inwards, in the same manner as when an insect or bit of meat is placed on the disc. This latter movement is never caused, as far as I have seen, by the mere drying up of an adhesive fluid and the consequent drawing together of the tentacles.

Insectivorous Plants Page 39

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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