Clematis montana.--The long, thin petioles of the leaves, whilst young, are sensitive, and when lightly rubbed bend to the rubbed side, subsequently becoming straight. They are far more sensitive than the petioles of C. glandulosa; for a loop of thread weighing a quarter of a grain (16.2 mg.) caused them to bend; a loop weighing only one-eighth of a grain (8.1 mg.) sometimes acted and sometimes did not act. The sensitiveness extends from the blade of the leaf to the stem. I may here state that I ascertained in all cases the weights of the string and thread used by carefully weighing 50 inches in a chemical balance, and then cutting off measured lengths. The main petiole carries three leaflets; but their short, sub-petioles are not sensitive. A young, inclined shoot (the plant being in the greenhouse) made a large circle opposed to the course of the sun in 4 hrs. 20 m., but the next day, being very cold, the time was 5 hrs. 10 m. A stick placed near a revolving stem was soon struck by the petioles which stand out at right angles, and the revolving movement was thus arrested. The petioles then began, being excited by the contact, to slowly wind round the stick. When the stick was thin, a petiole sometimes wound twice round it. The opposite leaf was in no way affected. The attitude assumed by the stem after the petiole had clasped the stick, was that of a man standing by a column, who throws his arm horizontally round it. With respect to the stem's power of twining, some remarks will be made under C. calycina.

Clematis Sieboldi.--A shoot made three revolutions against the sun at an average rate of 3 hrs. 11 m. The power of twining is like that of the last species. Its leaves are nearly similar in structure and in function, excepting that the sub-petioles of the lateral and terminal leaflets are sensitive. A loop of thread, weighing one-eighth of a grain, acted on the main petiole, but not until two or three days had elapsed. The leaves have the remarkable habit of spontaneously revolving, generally in vertical ellipses, in the same manner, but in a less degree, as will be described under C. microphylla.

Clematis calycina.--The young shoots are thin and flexible: one revolved, describing a broad oval, in 5 hrs. 30 m., and another in 6 hrs. 12 m. They followed the course of the sun; but the course, if observed long enough, would probably be found to vary in this species, as well as in all the others of the genus. It is a rather better twiner than the two last species: the stem sometimes made two spiral turns round a thin stick, if free from twigs; it then ran straight up for a space, and reversing its course took one or two turns in an opposite direction. This reversal of the spire occurred in all the foregoing species. The leaves are so small compared with those of most of the other species, that the petioles at first seem ill-adapted for clasping. Nevertheless, the main service of the revolving movement is to bring them into contact with surrounding objects, which are slowly but securely seized. The young petioles, which alone are sensitive, have their ends bowed a little downwards, so as to be in a slight degree hooked; ultimately the whole leaf, if it catches nothing, becomes level. I gently rubbed with a thin twig the lower surfaces of two young petioles; and in 2 hrs. 30 m. they were slightly curved downwards; in 5 hrs., after being rubbed, the end of one was bent completely back, parallel to the basal portion; in 4 hrs. subsequently it became nearly straight again. To show how sensitive the young petioles are, I may mention that I just touched the under sides of two with a little water-colour, which when dry formed an excessively thin and minute crust; but this sufficed in 24 hrs. to cause both to bend downwards. Whilst the plant is young, each leaf consists of three divided leaflets, which barely have distinct petioles, and these are not sensitive; but when the plant is well grown, the petioles of the two lateral and terminal leaflets are of considerable length, and become sensitive so as to be capable of clasping an object in any direction.

The Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants Page 19

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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