This consisted in fixing two minute triangles of thin paper, about 1/20 inch in height, to the two ends of the attached glass filament; and when their tips were brought into a line so that they covered one another, dots were made as before on the glass-plate. If we suppose the glass-plate to stand at a distance of seven inches from the end of the shoot bearing the filament, the dots when joined, will give nearly the same figure as if a filament seven inches long, dipped in ink, had been fixed to the moving shoot, and had inscribed its own course on the plate. The movement is thus considerably magnified; for instance, if a shoot one inch in length were bending, and the glass-plate stood at the distance of seven inches, the movement would be magnified eight times. It would, however, have been very difficult to have ascertained in each case how great a length of the shoot was bending; and this is indispensable for ascertaining the degree to which the movement is magnified.

After dots had been made on the glass-plates by either of the above methods, they were copied on tracing paper and joined by ruled lines, with arrows showing the direction of the movement. The nocturnal courses are represented by straight broken lines. the first dot is always made larger than the others, so as to catch the eye, as may be seen in the diagrams. The figures on the glass-plates were often drawn on too large a scale to be reproduced on the pages of this volume, and the proportion in which they have been reduced is always given.* Whenever it could be approximately told how much the movement had been magnified, this is stated. We have perhaps

* We are much indebted to Mr. Cooper for the care with which he has reduced and engraved our diagrams.

[page 8] introduced a superfluous number of diagrams; but they take up less space than a full description of the movements. Almost all the sketches of plants asleep, etc., were carefully drawn for us by Mr. George Darwin.

As shoots, leaves, etc., in circumnutating bend more and more, first in one direction and then in another, they were necessarily viewed at different times more or less obliquely; and as the dots were made on a flat surface, the apparent amount of movement is exaggerated according to the degree of obliquity of the point of view. It would, therefore, have been a much better plan to have used hemispherical glasses, if we had possessed them of all sizes, and if the bending part of the shoot had been distinctly hinged and could have been placed so as to have formed one of the radii of the sphere. But even in this case it would have been necessary afterwards to have projected the figures on paper; so that complete accuracy could not have been attained. From the distortion of our figures, owing to the above causes, they are of no use to any one who wishes to know the exact amount of movement, or the exact course pursued; but they serve excellently for ascertaining whether or not the part moved at all, as well as the general character of the movement.]

In the following chapters, the movements of a considerable number of plants are described; and the species have been arranged according to the system adopted by Hooker in Le Maout and Decaisne's 'Descriptive Botany.' No one who is not investigating the present subject need read all the details, which, however, we have thought it advisable to give. To save the reader trouble, the conclusions and most of the more important parts have been printed in larger type than the other parts. He may, if he thinks fit, read the last chapter first, as it includes a summary of the whole volume; and he will thus see what points interest him, and on which he requires the full evidence.

Finally, we must have the pleasure of returning our [page 9] sincere thanks to Sir Joseph Hooker and to Mr. W. Thiselton Dyer for their great kindness, in not only sending us plants from Kew, but in procuring others from several sources when they were required for our observations; also, for naming many species, and giving us information on various points. [page 10]


The Power of Movement in Plants Page 07

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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

Charles Darwin

All Pages of This Book