Moreover the plant was now for the first time placed in this position. The cotyledons bowed themselves greatly towards the light from 8 to 10.50 A.M., when the first dot was made (Fig. 7). During the

Fig. 7. Brassica oleracea: conjoint circumnutation of the hypocotyl and cotyledons, from 10.50 A.M. to 8 A.M. on the following morning. Tracing made on a vertical glass.

next 12 hours the bead swept obliquely up and down 8 times and described 4 figures representing ellipses; so that it travelled at nearly the same rate as in the previous case. during the night it moved upwards, owing to the sleep-movement of the cotyledons, and continued to move in the same direction till 9 A.M. on the following morning; but this latter movement would not have occurred with seedlings under their natural conditions fully exposed to the light.

By 9.25 A.M. on this second day the same cotyledon had [page 18] begun to fall, and a dot was made on a fresh glass. The movement was traced until 5.30 P.M. as shown in (Fig. 8), which is given, because the course followed was much more irregular than on the two previous occasions. During these 8 hours the bead changed its course greatly 10 times. The upward movement of the cotyledon during the afternoon and early part of the night is here plainly shown.

Fig. 8. Brassica oleracea: conjoint circumnutation of the hypocotyl and cotyledons during 8 hours. Figure here reduced to one-third of the original scale, as traced on a vertical glass.

As the filaments were fixed in the three last cases to one of the cotyledons, and as the hypocotyl was left free, the tracings show the movement of both organs conjoined; and we now wished to ascertain whether both circumnutated. Filaments were therefore fixed horizontally to two hypocotyls close beneath the petioles of their cotyledons. These seedlings had stood for two days in the same position before a north-east window. In the morning, up to about 11 A.M., they moved in zigzag lines towards the light; and at night they again became almost upright through apogeotropism. After about 11 A.M. they moved a little back from the light, often crossing and recrossing their former path in zigzag lines. the sky on this day varied much in brightness, and these observations merely proved that the hypocotyls were continually moving in a manner resembling circumnutation. On a previous day which was uniformly cloudy, a hypocotyl was firmly secured to a little stick, and a filament was fixed to the larger of the two cotyledons, and its movement was traced on a vertical glass. It fell greatly from 8.52 A.M., when the first dot was made, till 10.55 A.M.; it then rose greatly until 12.17 P.M. Afterwards it fell a little and made a loop, but by 2.22 P.M. it had risen a little and continued rising till 9.23 P.M., when it made another loop, and at 10.30 P.M. was again rising. These observations show that the cotyledons move [page 19] vertically up and down all day long, and as there was some slight lateral movement, they circumnutated.

Fig. 9. Brassica oleracea: circumnutation of hypocotyl, in darkness, traced on a horizontal glass, by means of a filament with a bead fixed across its summit, between 9.15 A.M. and 8.30 A.M. on the following morning. Figure here reduced to one-half of original scale.

The cabbage was one of the first plants, the seedlings of which were observed by us, and we did not then know how far the circumnutation of the different parts was affected by light. Young seedlings were therefore kept in complete darkness except for a minute or two during each observation, when they were illuminated by a small wax taper held almost vertically above them. During the first day the hypocotyl of one changed its course 13 times (see Fig. 9); and it deserves notice that the longer axes of the figures described often cross one another at right or nearly right angles. Another seedling was observed in the same manner, but it was much older, for it had formed a true leaf a quarter of an inch in length, and the hypocotyl was 1 3/8 inch in height.

The Power of Movement in Plants Page 11

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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