The cotyledons were well developed, being .9 of an inch in length, .22 in breadth, and .15 in thickness. The almost cylindrical hypocotyl, now bearing a minute spinous bud on its summit, was only .45 of an inch in height, and .19 in diameter. The tracing (Fig. 31) shows the combined movement of the hypocotyl and of one of the cotyledons, from 4.45 P.M. on May 28th to 11 A.M. on the 31st. On the 29th a nearly perfect ellipse was completed. On the 30th the hypocotyl moved, from some unknown cause, in the same general direction in a zigzag line; but between 4.30 and 10 P.M. almost completed a second small ellipse. The cotyledons move only a little up and down: thus at 10.15 P.M. they stood only 10o higher than at noon. The chief seat of movement therefore, at least when the cotyledons are rather old as in the present case, lies in the hypocotyl. The ellipse described on the 29th had its longer axis directed at nearly right angles to a line joining the two cotyledons. The actual amount of movement of the bead at the end of the [page 45] filament was, as far as could be ascertained, about .14 of an inch.

Fig. 32. Helianthus annuus: circumnutation of hypocotyl, with filament fixed across its summit, traced on a horizontal glass in darkness, from 8.45 A.M. to 10.45 P.M., and for an hour on following morning. Movement of bead magnified 21 times, here reduced to one-half of original scale.

Helianthus annuus (Compositae).--The upper part of the hypocotyl moved during the day-time in the course shown in the annexed figure (Fig. 32). As the line runs in various directions, crossing itself several times, the movement may be considered as one of circumnutation. The extreme actual distance travelled was at least .1 of an inch. The movements of the cotyledons of two seedlings were observed; one facing a north-east window, and the other so feebly illuminated from above us as to be almost in darkness. They continued to sink till about noon, when they began to rise; but between 5 and 7 or 8 P.M. they either sank a little, or moved laterally, and then again began to rise. At 7 A.M. on the following morning those on the plant before the north-east window had opened so little that they stood at an angle of 73o above the horizon, and were not observed any longer. Those on the seedling which had been kept in almost complete darkness, sank during the whole day, without rising about mid-day, but rose during the night. On the third and fourth days they continued sinking without any alternate ascending movement; and this, no doubt, was due to the absence of light.

Primula Sinensis (Primulaceae).--A seedling was placed with the two cotyledons parallel to a north-east window on a day when the light was nearly uniform, and a filament was affixed to one of them. From observations subsequently made on another seedling with the stem secured to a stick, the greater part of the movement shown in the annexed figure (Fig. 33), must have been that of the hypocotyl, though the cotyledons certainly move up and down to a certain extent both during the day and night. The movements of the same seedling were traced [page 46] on the following day with nearly the same result; and there can be no doubt about the circumnutation of the hypocotyl.

Fig. 33. Primula Sinensis: conjoint circumnutation of hypocotyl and cotyledon, traced on vertical glass, from 8.40 A.M. to 10.45 P.M. Movements of bead magnified about 26 times.

Cyclamen Persicum (Primulaceae).--This plant is generally supposed to produce only a single cotyledon, but Dr. H. Gressner* has shown that a second one is developed after a long interval of time. The hypocotyl is converted into a globular corm, even before the first cotyledon has broken through the ground with its blade closely enfolded and with its petiole in the form of an arch, like the arched hypocotyl or epicotyl of any ordinary dicotyledonous plant. A glass filament was affixed to a cotyledon, .55 of an inch in height, the petiole of which had straightened itself and stood nearly vertical, but with the blade not as yet fully expanded.

The Power of Movement in Plants Page 24

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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