This fact, moreover, proves that it is not the weight of the cotyledons which causes the arching. Seeds of Helianthus annuus and of two species of Ipomoea (those of 'I. bona nox' being for the genus large and heavy) were pinned in the same manner, and the hypocotyls became spontaneously arched; the radicles, which had been vertically dependent, assumed in consequence a horizontal position. In the case of Ipomoea leptophylla it is the petioles of the cotyledons which become arched whilst rising through the ground; and this occurred spontaneously when the seeds were fixed to the lids of jars.

It may, however, be suggested with some degree of probability that the arching was aboriginally caused by mechanical compulsion, owing to the confinement of the parts in question within the seed-coats, or to friction whilst they were being dragged upwards. But [page 91] if this is so, we must admit from the cases just given, that a tendency in the upper part of the several specified organs to bend downwards and thus to become arched, has now become with many plants firmly inherited. The arching, to whatever cause it may be due, is the result of modified circumnutation, through increased growth along the convex side of the part; such growth being only temporary, for the part always straightens itself subsequently by increased growth along the concave side, as will hereafter be described.

It is a curious fact that the hypocotyls of some plants, which are but little developed and which never raise their cotyledons above the ground, nevertheless inherit a slight tendency to arch themselves, although this movement is not of the least use to them. We refer to a movement observed by Sachs in the hypocotyls of the bean and some other Leguminosae, and which is shown in the accompanying figure (Fig. 59), copied from his Essay.* The hypocotyl and radicle at first grow perpendicularly downwards, as at A, and then bend, often in the course of 24 hours, into the position shown at B. As we shall hereafter often have to recur to this movement, we will, for brevity sake, call it "Sachs' curvature." At first sight it might be thought that the altered position of the radicle in B was wholly due to the outgrowth of the epicotyl (e), the petiole (p) serving as a hinge; and it is probable that this is partly the cause; but the hypocotyl and upper part of the radicle themselves become slightly curved.

The above movement in the bean was repeatedly seen by us; but our observations were made chiefly on Phaseolus multiflorus, the cotyledons of which are like-

* 'Arbeiten des bot. Instit. Würzburg,' vol. i. 1873, p. 403. [page 92]

wise hypogean. Some seedlings with well-developed radicles were first immersed in a solution of permanganate of potassium; and, judging from the changes of colour (though these were not very clearly defined), the hypocotyl is about .3 inch in length. Straight, thin, black lines of this length were now drawn from the bases of the short petioles along the hypocotyls

Fig. 59. Vicia faba: germinating seeds, suspended in damp air: A, with radicle growing perpendicularly downwards; B, the same bean after 24 hours and after the radicle has curved itself; r. radicle; h, short hypocotyl; e, epicotyl appearing as a knob in A and as an arch in B; p, petiole of the cotyledon, the latter enclosed within the seed-coats.

of 23 germinating seeds, which were pinned to the lids of jars, generally with the hilum downwards, and with their radicles pointing to the centre of the earth. After an interval of from 24 to 48 hours the black lines on the hypocotyls of 16 out of the 23 seedlings became distinctly curved, but in very various degrees (namely, with radii between 20 and [page 93] 80 mm. on Sachs' cyclometer) in the same relative direction as shown at B in Fig. 59. As geotropism will obviously tend to check this curvature, seven seeds were allowed to germinate with proper precautions for their growth in a klinostat,* by which means geotropism was eliminated. The position of the hypocotyls was observed during four successive days, and they continued to bend towards the hilum and lower surface of the seed.

The Power of Movement in Plants Page 45

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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