But it may be asked, did the cotyledons first tend to abort, or did a bulb first begin to be formed? As all dicotyledons naturally produce two well-developed cotyledons, whilst the thickness of the hypocotyl and of the radicle differs much in different plants, it seems probable that these latter organs first became from [page 98] some cause thickened--in several instances apparently in correlation with the fleshy nature of the mature plant--so as to contain a store of nutriment sufficient for the seedling, and then that one or both cotyledons, from being superfluous, decreased in size. It is not surprising that one cotyledon alone should sometimes have been thus affected, for with certain plants, for instance the cabbage, the cotyledons are at first of unequal size, owing apparently to the manner in which they are packed within the seed. It does not, however, follow from the above connection, that whenever a bulb is formed at an early age, one or both cotyledons will necessarily become superfluous, and consequently more or less rudimentary. Finally, these cases offer a good illustration of the principle of compensation or balancement of growth, or, as Goethe expresses it, "in order to spend on one side, Nature is forced to economise on the other side."

Circumnutation and other movements of Hypocotyls and Epicotyls, whilst still arched and buried beneath the ground, and whilst breaking through it.--According to the position in which a seed may chance to have been buried, the arched hypocotyl or epicotyl will begin to protrude in a horizontal, a more or less inclined, or in a vertical plane. Except when already standing vertically upwards, both legs of the arch are acted on from the earliest period by apogeotropism. Consequently they both bend upwards until the arch becomes vertical. During the whole of this process, even before the arch has broken through the ground, it is continually trying to circumnutate to a slight extent; as it likewise does if it happens at first to stand vertically up,--all which cases have been observed and described, more or less fully, in the last chapter. After the arch has grown to some [page 99] height upwards the basal part ceases to circumnutate, whilst the upper part continues to do so.

That an arched hypocotyl or epicotyl, with the two legs fixed in the ground, should be able to circumnutate, seemed to us, until we had read Prof. Wiesner's observations, an inexplicable fact. He has shown* in the case of certain seedlings, whose tips are bent downwards (or which nutate), that whilst the posterior side of the upper or dependent portion grows quickest, the anterior and opposite side of the basal portion of the same internode grows quickest; these two portions being separated by an indifferent zone, where the growth is equal on all sides. There may be even more than one indifferent zone in the same internode; and the opposite sides of the parts above and below each such zone grow quickest. This peculiar manner of growth is called by Wiesner "undulatory nutation." Circumnutation depends on one side of an organ growing quickest (probably preceded by increased turgescence), and then another side, generally almost the opposite one, growing quickest. Now if we look at an arch like this [upside down U] and suppose the whole of one side--we will say the whole convex side of both legs--to increase in length, this would not cause the arch to bend to either side. But if the outer side or surface of the left leg were to increase in length the arch would be pushed over to the right, and this would be aided by the inner side of the right leg increasing in length. If afterwards the process were reversed, the arch would be pushed over to the opposite or left side, and so on alternately,--that is, it would circumnutate. As an arched hypo-

* 'Die undulirende Nutation der Internodien,' Akad. der Wissench. (Vienna), Jan. 17th, 1878. Also published separately, see p. 32. [page 100]

cotyl, with the two legs fixed in the ground, certainly circumnutates, and as it consists of a single internode, we may conclude that it grows in the manner described by Wiesner.

The Power of Movement in Plants Page 48

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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