Both branches of the tendril, whilst young, are highly sensitive. A touch with a pencil, so gentle as only just to move a tendril borne at the end of a long flexible shoot, sufficed to cause it to become perceptibly curved in four or five minutes. It became straight again in rather above one hour. A loop of soft thread weighing one-seventh of a grain (9.25 mg.) was thrice tried, and each time caused the tendril to become curved in 30 or 40 m. Half this weight produced no effect. The long foot-stalk is much less sensitive, for a slight rubbing produced no effect, although prolonged contact with a stick caused it to bend. The two branches are sensitive on all sides, so that they converge if touched on their inner sides, and diverge if touched on their outer sides. If a branch be touched at the same time with equal force on opposite sides, both sides are equally stimulated and there is no movement. Before examining this plant, I had observed only tendrils which are sensitive on one side alone, and these when lightly pressed between the finger and thumb become curved; but on thus pinching many times the tendrils of the Cissus no curvature ensued, and I falsely inferred at first that they were not at all sensitive.

Cissus antarcticus.--The tendrils on a young plant were thick and straight, with the tips a little curved. When their concave surfaces were rubbed, and it was necessary to do this with some force, they very slowly became curved, and subsequently straight again. They are therefore much less sensitive than those of the last species; but they made two revolutions, following the sun, rather more rapidly, viz., in 3 hrs. 30 m. and 4 hrs. The internodes do not revolve.

Ampelopsis hederacea (Virginian Creeper).--The internodes apparently do not move more than can be accounted for by the varying action of the light. The tendrils are from 4 to 5 inches in length, with the main stem sending off several lateral branches, which have their tips curved, as may be seen in the upper figure (fig. 11). They exhibit no true spontaneous revolving movement, but turn, as was long ago observed by Andrew Knight, {31} from the light to the dark. I have seen several tendrils move in less than 24 hours, through an angle of 180 degrees to the dark side of a case in which a plant was placed, but the movement is sometimes much slower. The several lateral branches often move independently of one another, and sometimes irregularly, without any apparent cause. These tendrils are less sensitive to a touch than any others observed by me. By gentle but repeated rubbing with a twig, the lateral branches, but not the main stem, became in the course of three or four hours slightly curved; but they seemed to have hardly any power of again straightening themselves. The tendrils of a plant which had crawled over a large box-tree clasped several of the branches; but I have repeatedly seen that they will withdraw themselves after seizing a stick. When they meet with a flat surface of wood or a wall (and this is evidently what they are adapted for), they turn all their branches towards it, and, spreading them widely apart, bring their hooked tips laterally into contact with it. In effecting this, the several branches, after touching the surface, often rise up, place themselves in a new position, and again come down into contact with it.

In the course of about two days after a tendril has arranged its branches so as to press on any surface, the curved tips swell, become bright red, and form on their under-sides the well-known little discs or cushions with which they adhere firmly. In one case the tips were slightly swollen in 38 hrs. after coming into contact with a brick; in another case they were considerably swollen in 48 hrs., and in an additional 24 hrs. were firmly attached to a smooth board; and lastly, the tips of a younger tendril not only swelled but became attached to a stuccoed wall in 42 hrs. These adhesive discs resemble, except in colour and in being larger, those of Bignonia capreolata. When they were developed in contact with a ball of tow, the fibres were separately enveloped, but not in so effective a manner as by B. capreolata. Discs are never developed, as far as I have seen, without the stimulus of at least temporary contact with some object. {32} They are generally first formed on one side of the curved tip, the whole of which often becomes so much changed in appearance, that a line of the original green tissue can be traced only along the concave surface. When, however, a tendril has clasped a cylindrical stick, an irregular rim or disc is sometimes formed along the inner surface at some little distance from the curved tip; this was also observed (p. 71) by Mohl. The discs consist of enlarged cells, with smooth projecting hemispherical surfaces, coloured red; they are at first gorged with fluid (see section given by Mohl, p. 70), but ultimately become woody.

The Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants Page 49

Charles Darwin

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