THE CIRCUMNUTATING MOVEMENTS OF SEEDLING PLANTS.

Brassica oleracea, circumnutation of the radicle, of the arched hypocotyl whilst still buried beneath the ground, whilst rising above the ground and straightening itself, and when erect--Circumnutation of the cotyledons-- Rate of movement--Analogous observations on various organs in species of Githago, Gossypium, Oxalis, Tropaeolum, Citrus, Aesculus, of several Leguminous and Cucurbitaceous genera, Opuntia, Helianthus, Primula, Cyclamen, Stapelia, Cerinthe, Nolana, Solanum, Beta, Ricinus, Quercus, Corylus, Pinus, Cycas, Canna, Allium, Asparagus, Phalaris, Zea, Avena, Nephrodium, and Selaginella.

THE following chapter is devoted to the circumnutating movements of the radicles, hypocotyls, and cotyledons of seedling plants; and, when the cotyledons do not rise above the ground, to the movements of the epicotyl. But in a future chapter we shall have to recur to the movements of certain cotyledons which sleep at night.

[Brassica oleracea (Cruciferae)'.--Fuller details will be given with respect to the movements in this case than in any other, as space and time will thus ultimately be saved.

Radicle.--A seed with the radicle projecting .05 inch was fastened with shellac to a little plate of zinc, so that the radicle stood up vertically; and a fine glass filament was then fixed near its base, that is, close to the seed-coats. The seed was surrounded by little bits of wet sponge, and the movement of the bead at the end of the filament was traced (Fig. 1) during sixty hours. In this time the radicle increased in length from .05 to .11 inch. Had the filament been attached at first close to the apex of the radicle, and if it could have remained there all the time, the movement exhibited would have [page 11] been much greater, for at the close of our observations the tip, instead of standing vertically upwards, had become bowed downwards through geotropism, so as almost to touch the zinc plate. As far as we could roughly ascertain by measurements made with compasses on other seeds, the tip alone, for a length of only 2/100 to 3/100 of an inch, is acted on by geotropism. But the tracing shows that the basal part of the radicle continued to circumnutate irregularly during the whole time. The actual extreme amount of movement of the bead at the end of the filament was nearly .05 inch, but to what extent the movement of the radicle was magnified by the filament, which was nearly 3/4 inch in length, it was impossible to estimate.

Fig. 1. Brassica oleracea: circumnutation of radicle, traced on horizontal glass, from 9 A.M. Jan. 31st to 9 P.M. Feb. 2nd. Movement of bead at end of filament magnified about 40 times.

Another seed was treated and observed in the same manner, but the radicle in this case protruded .1 inch, and was not Fig. 2. Brassica oleracea: circumnutating and geotropic movement of radicle, traced on horizontal glass during 46 hours.

fastened so as to project quite vertically upwards. The filament was affixed close to its base. The tracing (Fig. 2, reduced by half) shows the movement from 9 A.M. Jan. 31st to 7 A.M. Feb. 2nd; but it continued to move during the whole of the [page 12] 2nd in the same general direction, and in a similar zigzag manner. From the radicle not being quite perpendicular when the filament was affixed geotropism came into play at once; but the irregular zigzag course shows that there was growth (probably preceded by turgescence), sometimes on one and sometimes on another side. Occasionally the bead remained stationary for about an hour, and then probably growth occurred on the side opposite to that which caused the geotropic curvature. In the case previously described the basal part of the very short radicle from being turned vertically upwards, was at first very little affected by geotropism. Filaments were affixed in two other instances to rather longer radicles protruding obliquely from seeds which had been turned upside down; and in these cases the lines traced on the horizontal glasses were only slightly zigzag, and the movement was always in the same general direction, through the action of geotropism.

The Power of Movement in Plants Page 08

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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

Charles Darwin

All Pages of This Book