The periods were recorded in only three cases, namely, with leaves on which unusually small drops had been placed. Their tentacles were somewhat inflected in 45 m.; and after 7 hrs. 45 m. the blades of two were so much curved inwards that they formed little cups enclosing the drops. These leaves re-expanded on the third day. On another occasion the blade of a leaf was much inflected in 5 hrs. after a drop of milk had been placed on it.

Human Urine.--Drops were placed on twelve leaves, and the tentacles of all, with a single exception, became greatly inflected. Owing, I presume, to differences in the chemical nature of the urine on different occasions, the time required for the movements of the tentacles varied much, but was always effected in under 24 hrs. In two instances I recorded that all the exterior tentacles were completely inflected in 17 hrs., but not the blade of the leaf. In another case the edges of a leaf, after 25 hrs. 30 m., became so strongly inflected that it was converted into a cup. The power of urine does not lie in the urea, which, as we shall hereafter see, is inoperative.

Albumen (fresh from a hen's egg), placed on seven leaves, caused the tentacles of six of them to be well inflected. In one case the edge of the leaf itself became much curled in after 20 hrs. The one leaf which was unaffected remained so for 26 hrs., and was then treated with a drop of milk, and this caused the tentacles to bend inwards in 12 hrs.

Cold Filtered Infusion of Raw Meat.--This was tried only on a single leaf, which had most of its outer tentacles and the blade inflected in 19 hrs. During subsequent years, I repeatedly used this infusion to test leaves which had been experimented [page 80] on with other substances, and it was found to act most energetically, but as no exact account of these trials was kept, they are not here introduced.

Mucus.--Thick and thin mucus from the bronchial tubes, placed on three leaves, caused inflection. A leaf with thin mucus had its marginal tentacles and blade somewhat curved inward in 5 hrs. 30 m., and greatly so in 20 hrs. The action of this fluid no doubt is due either to the saliva or to some albuminous matter* mingled with it, and not, as we shall see in the next chapter, to mucin or the chemical principle of mucus.

Saliva.--Human saliva, when evaporated, yields from 1.14 to 1.19 per cent. of residue; and this yields 0.25 per cent. of ashes, so that the proportion of nitrogenous matter which saliva contains must be small. Nevertheless, drops placed on the discs of eight leaves acted on them all. In one case all the exterior tentacles, excepting nine, were inflected in 19 hrs. 30 m.; in another case a few became so in 2 hrs., and after 7 hrs. 30 m. all those situated near where the drop lay, as well as the blade, were acted on. Since making these trials, I have many scores of times just touched glands with the handle of my scalpel wetted with saliva, to ascertain whether a leaf was in an active condition; for this was shown in the course of a few minutes by the bending inwards of the tentacles. The edible nest of the Chinese swallow is formed of matter secreted by the salivary glands; two grains were added to one ounce of distilled water (one part to 218), which was boiled for several minutes, but did not dissolve the whole. The usual-sized drops were placed on three leaves, and these in 1 hr. 30 m. were well, and in 2 hrs. 15 m. closely, inflected.

Isinglass.--Drops of a solution about as thick as milk, and of a still thicker solution, were placed on eight leaves, and the tentacles of all became inflected. In one case the exterior tentacles were well curved in after 6 hrs. 30 m., and the blade of the leaf to a partial extent after 24 hrs. As saliva acted so efficiently, and yet contains so small a proportion of nitrogenous matter, I tried how small a quantity of isinglass would act. One part was dissolved in 218 parts of distilled water, and drops were placed on four leaves. After 5 hrs. two of these were considerably and two moderately inflected; after 22 hrs.

Insectivorous Plants Page 41

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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