It is remarkable that in all the above and following experiments, as well as when much larger bits of fibrin were used, the leaves were very little excited; and it was sometimes necessary to add a little saliva to induce complete inflection. The leaves, moreover, began to re-expand after only 48 hrs., whereas they would have remained inflected for a much longer time had insects, meat, cartilage, albumen, &c., been placed on them.

I then tried some pure white fibrin, sent me by Dr. Burdon Sanderson.

[Experiment 1.--Two particles, barely 1/20 of an inch (1.27 mm.) square, were placed on opposite sides of the same leaf. One of these did not excite the surrounding tentacles, and the gland on which it rested soon dried. The other particle caused a few of the short adjoining tentacles to be inflected, the more distant ones not being affected. After 24 hrs. both were almost, and after 72 hrs. completely, dissolved.

Experiment 2.--The same experiment with the same result, only one of the two bits of fibrin exciting the short surrounding tentacles. This bit was so slowly acted on that after a day I pushed it on to some fresh glands. In three days from the time when it was first placed on the leaf it was completely dissolved.

Experiment 3.--Bits of fibrin of about the same size as before were placed on the discs of two leaves; these caused very little inflection in 23 hrs., but after 48 hrs. both were well clasped by the surrounding short tentacles, and after an additional 24 hrs. were completely dissolved. On the disc of one of these leaves much clear acid fluid was left.

Experiment 4.--Similar bits of fibrin were placed on the discs of two leaves; as after 2 hrs. the glands seemed rather dry, they were freely moistened with saliva; this soon caused strong inflection both of the tentacles and blades, with copious [page 102] secretion from the glands. In 18 hrs. the fibrin was completely liquefied, but undigested atoms still floated in the liquid; these, however, disappeared in under two additional days.]

From these experiments it is clear that the secretion completely dissolves pure fibrin. The rate of dissolution is rather slow; but this depends merely on this substance not exciting the leaves sufficiently, so that only the immediately adjoining tentacles are inflected, and the supply of secretion is small.

Syntonin.--This substance, extracted from muscle, was kindly prepared for me by Dr. Moore. Very differently from fibrin, it acts quickly and energetically. Small portions placed on the discs of three leaves caused their tentacles and blades to be strongly inflected within 8 hrs.; but no further observations were made. It is probably due to the presence of this substance that raw meat is too powerful a stimulant, often injuring or even killing the leaves.

Areolar Tissue.--Small portions of this tissue from a sheep were placed on the discs of three leaves; these became moderately well inflected in 24 hrs., but began to re-expand after 48 hrs., and were fully re-expanded in 72 hrs., always reckoning from the time when the bits were first given. This substance, therefore, like fibrin, excites the leaves for only a short time. The residue left on the leaves, after they were fully re-expanded, was examined under a high power and found much altered, but, owing to the presence of a quantity of elastic tissue, which is never acted on, could hardly be said to be in a liquefied condition.

Some areolar tissue free from elastic tissue was next procured from the visceral cavity of a toad, and moderately sized, as well as very small, bits were placed on five leaves. After 24 hrs. two of the bits [page 103] were completely liquefied; two others were rendered transparent, but not quite liquefied; whilst the fifth was but little affected. Several glands on the three latter leaves were now moistened with a little saliva, which soon caused much inflection and secretion, with the result that in the course of 12 additional hrs. one leaf alone showed a remnant of undigested tissue.

Insectivorous Plants Page 52

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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