SMILACEAE.--Smilax aspera, var. maculata.--Aug. St.-Hilaire {28} considers that the tendrils, which rise in pairs from the petiole, are modified lateral leaflets; but Mohl (p. 41) ranks them as modified stipules. These tendrils are from 1.5 to 1.75 inches in length, are thin, and have slightly curved, pointed extremities. They diverge a little from each other, and stand at first nearly upright. When lightly rubbed on either side, they slowly bend to that side, and subsequently become straight again. The back or convex side when placed in contact with a stick became just perceptibly curved in 1 hr. 20 m., but did not completely surround it until 48 hrs. had elapsed; the concave side of another became considerably curved in 2 hrs. and clasped a stick in 5 hrs. As the pairs of tendrils grow old, one tendril diverges more and more from the other, and both slowly bend backwards and downwards, so that after a time they project on the opposite side of the stem to that from which they arise. They then still retain their sensitiveness, and can clasp a support placed BEHIND the stem. Owing to this power, the plant is able to ascend a thin upright stick. Ultimately the two tendrils belonging to the same petiole, if they do not come into contact with any object, loosely cross each other behind the stem, as at B, in fig. 7. This movement of the tendrils towards and round the stem is, to a certain extent, guided by their avoidance of the light; for when a plant stood so that one of the two tendrils was compelled in thus slowly moving to travel towards the light, and the other from the light, the latter always moved, as I repeatedly observed, more quickly than its fellow. The tendrils do not contract spirally in any case. Their chance of finding a support depends on the growth of the plant, on the wind, and on their own slow backward and downward movement, which, as we have just seen, is guided, to a certain extent, by the avoidance of the light; for neither the internodes nor the tendrils have any proper revolving movement. From this latter circumstance, from the slow movements of the tendrils after contact (though their sensitiveness is retained for an unusual length of time), from their simple structure and shortness, this plant is a less perfect climber than any other tendril-bearing species observed by me. The plant whilst young and only a few inches in height, does not produce any tendrils; and considering that it grows to only about 8 feet in height, that the stem is zigzag and is furnished, as well as the petioles, with spines, it is surprising that it should be provided with tendrils, comparatively inefficient though these are. The plant might have been left, one would have thought, to climb by the aid of its spines alone, like our brambles. As, however, it belongs to a genus, some of the species of which are furnished with much longer tendrils, we may suspect that it possesses these organs solely from being descended from progenitors more highly organized in this respect.

FUMARIACEAE.--Corydalis claviculata.--According to Mohl (p. 43), the extremities of the branched stem, as well as the leaves, are converted into tendrils. In the specimens examined by me all the tendrils were certainly foliar, and it is hardly credible that the same plant should produce tendrils of a widely different homological nature. Nevertheless, from this statement by Mohl, I have ranked this species amongst the tendril-bearers; if classed exclusively by its foliar tendrils, it would be doubtful whether it ought not to have been placed amongst the leaf-climbers, with its allies, Fumaria and Adlumia. A large majority of its so-called tendrils still bear leaflets, though excessively reduced in size; but some few of them may properly be designated as tendrils, for they are completely destitute of laminae or blades. Consequently, we here behold a plant in an actual state of transition from a leaf-climber to a tendril- bearer. Whilst the plant is rather young, only the outer leaves, but when full-grown all the leaves, have their extremities converted into more or less perfect tendrils. I have examined specimens from one locality alone, viz. Hampshire; and it is not improbable that plants growing under different conditions might have their leaves a little more or less changed into true tendrils.

The Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants Page 42

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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