The power of revolving depends on the general health and vigour of the plant, as has been laboriously shown by Palm. But the movement of each separate internode is so independent of the others, that cutting off an upper one does not affect the revolutions of a lower one. When, however, Dutrochet cut off two whole shoots of the Hop, and placed them in water, the movement was greatly retarded; for one revolved in 20 hrs. and the other in 23 hrs., whereas they ought to have revolved in between 2 hrs. and 2 hrs. 30 m. Shoots of the Kidney-bean, cut off and placed in water, were similarly retarded, but in a less degree. I have repeatedly observed that carrying a plant from the greenhouse to my room, or from one part to another of the greenhouse, always stopped the movement for a time; hence I conclude that plants in a state of nature and growing in exposed situations, would not make their revolutions during very stormy weather. A decrease in temperature always caused a considerable retardation in the rate of revolution; but Dutrochet (tom. xvii. pp. 994, 996) has given such precise observations on this head with respect to the common pea that I need say nothing more. When twining plants are placed near a window in a room, the light in some cases has a remarkable power (as was likewise observed by Dutrochet, p. 998, with the pea) on the revolving movement, but this differs in degree with different plants; thus Ipomoea jucunda made a complete circle in 5 hrs. 30 m.; the semicircle from the light taking 4 hrs. 80 m., and that towards the light only 1 hr. Lonicera brachypoda revolved, in a reversed direction to the Ipomoea, in 8 hrs.; the semicircle from the light taking 5 hrs. 23 m., and that to the light only 2 hrs. 37 m. From the rate of revolution in all the plants observed by me, being nearly the same during the night and the day, I infer that the action of the light is confined to retarding one semicircle and accelerating the other, so as not to modify greatly the rate of the whole revolution. This action of the light is remarkable, when we reflect how little the leaves are developed on the young and thin revolving internodes. It is all the more remarkable, as botanists believe (Mohl, p. 119) that twining plants are but little sensitive to the action of light.

I will conclude my account of twining plants by giving a few miscellaneous and curious cases. With most twining plants all the branches, however many there may be, go on revolving together; but, according to Mohl (p. 4), only the lateral branches of Tamus elephantipes twine, and not the main stem. On the other hand, with a climbing species of Asparagus, the leading shoot alone, and not the branches, revolved and twined; but it should be stated that the plant was not growing vigorously. My plants of Combretum argenteum and C. purpureum made numerous short healthy shoots; but they showed no signs of revolving, and I could not conceive how these plants could be climbers; but at last C. argenteum put forth from the lower part of one of its main branches a thin shoot, 5 or 6 feet in length, differing greatly in appearance from the previous shoots, owing to its leaves being little developed, and this shoot revolved vigorously and twined. So that this plant produces shoots of two kinds. With Periploca Graeca (Palm, p. 43) the uppermost shoots alone twine. Polygonum convolvulus twines only during the middle of the summer (Palm, p. 43, 94); and plants growing vigorously in the autumn show no inclination to climb. The majority of Asclepiadaceae are twiners; but Asclepias nigra only "in fertiliori solo incipit scandere subvolubili caule" (Willdenow, quoted and confirmed by Palm, p. 41). Asclepias vincetoxicum does not regularly twine, but occasionally does so (Palm, p. 42; Mohl, p. 112) when growing under certain conditions. So it is with two species of Ceropegia, as I hear from Prof. Harvey, for these plants in their native dry South African home generally grow erect, from 6 inches to 2 feet in height,--a very few taller specimens showing some inclination to curve; but when cultivated near Dublin, they regularly twined up sticks 5 or 6 feet in height.

The Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants Page 16

Charles Darwin

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