Tropaeolum azureum.--An upper internode made four revolutions, following the sun, at an average rate of 1 hr. 47 m. The stem twined spirally round a support in the same irregular manner as that of the last species. Rudimentary leaves or filaments do not exist. The petioles of the young leaves are very sensitive: a single light rub with a twig caused one to move perceptibly in 5 m., and another in 6 m. The former became bent at right angles in 15 min., and became straight again in between 5 hrs. and 6 hrs. A loop of thread weighing 0.125th of a grain caused another petiole to curve.

Tropaeolum pentaphyllum.--This species has not the power of spirally twining, which seems due, not so much to a want of flexibility in the stem, as to continual interference from the clasping petioles. An upper internode made three revolutions, following the sun, at an average rate of 1 hr. 46 m. The main purpose of the revolving movement in all the species of Tropaeolum manifestly is to bring the petioles into contact with some supporting object. The petiole of a young leaf, after a slight rub, became curved in 6 m.; another, on a cold day, in 20 m., and others in from 8 m. to 10 m. Their curvature usually increased greatly in from 15 m. to 20 m., and they became straight again in between 5 hrs. and 6 hrs., but on one occasion in 3 hrs. When a petiole has fairly clasped a stick, it is not able, on the removal of the stick, to straighten itself. The free upper part of one, the base of which had already clasped a stick, still retained the power of movement. A loop of thread weighing 0.125th of a grain caused a petiole to curve; but the stimulus was not sufficient, the loop remaining suspended, to cause a permanent flexure. If a much heavier loop be placed in the angle between the petiole and the stem, it produces no effect; whereas we have seen with Clematis montana that the angle between the stem and petiole is sensitive.

Tropaeolum peregrinum.--The first-formed internodes of a young plant did not revolve, resembling in this respect those of a twining plant. In an older plant the four upper internodes made three irregular revolutions, in a course opposed to the sun, at an average rate of 1 hr. 48 min. It is remarkable that the average rate of revolution (taken, however, but from few observations) is very nearly the same in this and the two last species, namely, 1 hr. 47 m., 1 hr. 46 m., and 1 hr. 48 m. The present species cannot twine spirally, which seems mainly due to the rigidity of the stem. In a very young plant, which did not revolve, the petioles were not sensitive. In older plants the petioles of quite young leaves, and of leaves as much as an inch and a quarter in diameter, are sensitive. A moderate rub caused one to curve in 10 m., and others in 20 m. They became straight again in between 5 hrs. 45m. and 8 hrs. Petioles which have naturally come into contact with a stick, sometimes take two turns round it. After they have clasped a support, they become rigid and hard. They are less sensitive to a weight than in the previous species; for loops of string weighing 0.82 of a grain (53.14 mg.), did not cause any curvature, but a loop of double this weight (1.64 gr.) acted.

Tropaeolum elegans.--I did not make many observations on this species. The short and stiff internodes revolve irregularly, describing small oval figures. One oval was completed in 3 hrs. A young petiole, when rubbed, became slightly curved in 17 m.; and afterwards much more so. It was nearly straight again in 8 hrs.

Tropaeolum tuberosum.--On a plant nine inches in height, the internodes did not move at all; but on an older plant they moved irregularly and made small imperfect ovals. These movements could be detected only by being traced on a bell-glass placed over the plant. Sometimes the shoots stood still for hours; during some days they moved only in one direction in a crooked line; on other days they made small irregular spires or circles, one being completed in about 4 hrs. The extreme points reached by the apex of the shoot were only about one or one and a half inches asunder; yet this slight movement brought the petioles into contact with some closely surrounding twigs, which were then clasped. With the lessened power of spontaneously revolving, compared with that of the previous species, the sensitiveness of the petioles is also diminished. These, when rubbed a few times, did not become curved until half an hour had elapsed; the curvature increased during the next two hours, and then very slowly decreased; so that they sometimes required 24 hrs. to become straight again. Extremely young leaves have active petioles; one with the lamina only 0.15 of an inch in diameter, that is, about a twentieth of the full size, firmly clasped a thin twig. But leaves grown to a quarter of their full size can likewise act.

The Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants Page 24

Charles Darwin

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

Charles Darwin

All Pages of This Book