37) it may be seen that the hypocotyl moved to this side (the upper one in the figure), making small loops and zigzagging in its course. The movements of the cotyledons were also traced both on vertical and horizontal glasses; their angles with the horizon were likewise measured at various hours. They fell from 8.30 A.M. (October 17th) to about noon; then moved laterally in a zigzag line, and at about 4 P.M. began to rise; they continued to do so until 10.30 P.M., by which hour they stood vertically and were asleep. At what hour of the night or early morning they began to fall was not ascertained. Owing to the lateral movement shortly after mid-day, the descending and ascending lines did not coincide, and irregular ellipses were described during each 24 h. The regular periodicity of these movements is destroyed, as we shall hereafter see, if the seedlings are kept in the dark. [page 51]

Solanum palinacanthum.--Several arched hypocotyls rising nearly .2 of an inch above the ground, but with the cotyledons still buried beneath the surface, were observed, and the tracings showed that they circumnutated. Moreover, in several cases little open circular spaces or cracks in the argillaceous sand which surrounded the arched hypocotyls were visible, and these appeared to have been made by the hypocotyls having bent first to one and then to another side whilst growing upwards. In two instances the vertical arches were observed to move to a considerable distance backwards from the point where the cotyledons lay buried; this movement, which has been noticed in some other cases, and which seems to aid in extracting the cotyledons from the buried seed-coats, is due to the commencement of the straightening of the hypocotyl. In order to prevent this latter movement, the two legs of an arch, the

Fig. 38. Solanum palinacanthum: circumnutation of an arched hypocotyl, just emerging from the ground, with the two legs tied together, traced in darkness on a horizontal glass, from 9.20 A.M. Dec. 17th to 8.30 A.M. 19th. Movement of bead magnified 13 times; but the filament, which was affixed obliquely to the crown of the arch, was of unusual length.

summit of which was on a level with the surface of the soil, were tied together; the earth having been previously removed to a little depth all round. The movement of the arch during 47 hours under these unnatural circumstances is exhibited in the annexed figure.

The cotyledons of some seedlings in the hot-house were horizontal about noon on December 13th; and at 10 P.M. had risen to an angle of 27o above the horizon; at 7 A.M. on the following [page 52] morning, before it was light, they had risen to 59o above the horizon; in the afternoon of the same day they were found again horizontal.

Beta vulgaris (Chenopodeae).--The seedlings are excessively sensitive to light, so that although on the first day they were uncovered only during two or three minutes at each observation, they all moved steadily towards the side of the room whence the light proceeded, and the tracings consisted only of slightly zigzag lines directed towards the light. On the next day the plants were placed in a completely darkened room, and at each observation were illuminated as much as possible from vertically above by a small wax taper. The annexed figure (Fig. 39) shows the movement of the hypocotyl during 9 h. under these circumstances. A second seedling was similarly observed at the same time, and the tracing had the same peculiar character, due to the hypocotyl often moving and returning in nearly parallel lines. The movement of a third hypocotyl differed greatly.

Fig. 39. Beta vulgaris: circumnutation of hypocotyl, with filament fixed obliquely across its summit, traced in darkness on horizontal glass, from 8.25 A.M. to 5.30 P.M. Nov. 4th. Movement of bead magnified 23 times, here reduced to one-third of original scale.

We endeavoured to trace the movements of the cotyledons, and for this purpose some seedlings were kept in the dark, but they moved in an abnormal manner; they continued rising from 8.45 A.M.

Charles Darwin

All Pages of This Book