gyrans is descended from a unifoliate species, and that this was descended from a trifoliate one; for in this case both the absence of the little lateral leaflets on very young seedlings, and their sub- [page 364] sequent appearance, may be attributed to reversion to more or less distant progenitors.*
No one supposes that the rapid movements of the lateral leaflets of 'D. gyrans' are of any use to the plant; and why they should behave in this manner is quite unknown. We imagined that their power of movement might stand in some relation with their rudimentary condition, and therefore observed the almost rudimentary leaflets of Mimosa albida vel sensitiva (of which a drawing will hereafter be given, Fig. 159); but they exhibited no extraordinary movements, and at night they went to sleep like the full-sized leaflets. There is, however, this remarkable difference in the two cases; in Desmodium the pulvinus of the rudimentary leaflets has not been reduced in length, in correspondence with the reduction of the blade, to the same extent as has occurred in the Mimosa; and it is on the length and degree of curvature of the pulvinus that the amount of movement of the blade depends. Thus the average length of the pulvinus in the large terminal leaflets of Desmodium is 3 mm., whilst that of the rudimentary leaflets is 2.86 mm.; so that they differ only a little in length. But in diameter they differ much, that of the pulvinus of the little leaflets being only 0.3 mm. to 0.4 mm.; whilst that of the terminal leaflets is 1.33 mm. If we now turn to the Mimosa, we find that the average length of the pulvinus of the almost rudimentary leaflets is only 0.466 mm., or rather more than a quarter of the length of the pulvinus of the full-sized leaflets, namely, 1.66 mm. In this small reduction in length of the pulvinus of the rudimentary leaflets of Desmodium, we apparently have the proximate cause of their great and rapid circumnutating movement, in contrast with that of the almost rudimentary leaflets of the Mimosa. The small size and weight of the blade, and the little resistance opposed by the air to its movement, no doubt also come into play; for we have seen that these leaflets if immersed in water, when the resistance would be much greater, were prevented from jerking forwards. Why, during the reduction of the lateral leaflets of Desmodium, or during their reappearance--if they owe their origin to reversion--the pulvinus should have been so much less affected than the blade, whilst with the
* Desmodium vespertilionis is closely allied to D. gyrans, and it seems only occasionally to bear rudimentary lateral leaflets. Duchartre, 'Eléments de Botanique,' 1867, p. 353. [page 365]
Mimosa the pulvinus has been greatly reduced, we do not know. Nevertheless, it deserves notice that the reduction of the leaflets in these two genera has apparently been effected by a different process and for a different end; for with the Mimosa the reduction of the inner and basal leaflets was necessary from the want of space; but no such necessity exists with Desmodium, and the reduction of its lateral leaflets seems to have been due to the principle of compensation, in consequence of the great size of the terminal leaflet. Uraria (Tribe 6) and Centrosema (Tribe 8).--The leaflets of Uraria lagopus and the leaves of a Centrosema from Brazil both sink vertically down at night. In the latter plant the petiole at the same time rose 16 1/2o.
Amphicarpoea monoica (Tribe 8).--The leaflets sink down vertically at night, and the petioles likewise fall considerably.
Fig. 151. Amphicarpoea monoica: circumnutation and nyctitropic movement of leaf during 48 h.; its apex 9 inches from the vertical glass. Figure reduced to one-third of original scale. Plant illuminated from above; temp 17 1/2o - 18 1/2o C.
A petiole, which was carefully observed, stood during the day 25o above the horizon and at night 32o below it; it therefore fell 57o. A filament was fixed transversely across the terminal leaflet of a fine young leaf (2 1/4 inches in length including the [page 366] petiole), and the movement of the whole leaf was traced on a vertical glass.