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- CLIMBING PLANTS - 10/27 -


it could be withdrawn only by some little force. The petioles, when coming into contact with a stick, take either a complete or half a turn round it, and ultimately increase much in thickness. They do not possess the power of spontaneously revolving.

Lophospermum scandens, var. purpureum.--Some long, moderately thin internodes made four revolutions at an average rate of 3 hrs. 15 m. The course pursued was very irregular, namely, an extremely narrow ellipse, a large circle, an irregular spire or a zigzag line, and sometimes the apex stood still. The young petioles, when brought by the revolving movement into contact with sticks, clasped them, and soon increased considerably in thickness. But they are not quite so sensitive to a weight as those of the Rhodochiton, for loops of thread weighing one-eighth of a grain did not always cause them to bend.

This plant presents a case not observed by me in any other leaf- climber or twiner, {22} namely, that the young internodes of the stem are sensitive to a touch. When a petiole of this species clasps a stick, it draws the base of the internode against it; and then the internode itself bends towards the stick, which is caught between the stem and the petiole as by a pair of pincers. The internode afterwards straightens itself, excepting the part in actual contact with the stick. Young internodes alone are sensitive, and these are sensitive on all sides along their whole length. I made fifteen trials by twice or thrice lightly rubbing with a thin twig several internodes; and in about 2 hrs., but in one case in 3 hrs., all were bent: they became straight again in about 4 hrs. afterwards. An internode, which was rubbed as often as six or seven times, became just perceptibly curved in 1 hr. 15 m., and in 3 hrs. the curvature increased much; it became straight again in the course of the succeeding night. I rubbed some internodes one day on one side, and the next day either on the opposite side or at right angles to the first side; and the curvature was always towards the rubbed side.

According to Palm (p. 63), the petioles of Linaria cirrhosa and, to a limited degree, those of L. elatine have the power of clasping a support.

SOLANACEAE.--Solanum jasminoides.--Some of the species in this large genus are twiners; but the present species is a true leaf-climber. A long, nearly upright shoot made four revolutions, moving against the sun, very regularly at an average rate of 3 hrs. 26 m. The shoots, however, sometimes stood still. It is considered a greenhouse plant; but when kept there, the petioles took several days to clasp a stick: in the hothouse a stick was clasped in 7 hrs. In the greenhouse a petiole was not affected by a loop of string, suspended during several days and weighing 2.5 grains (163 mg.); but in the hothouse one was made to curve by a loop weighing 1.64 gr. (106.27 mg.); and, on the removal of the string, it became straight again. Another petiole was not at all acted on by a loop weighing only 0.82 of a grain (53.14 mg.) We have seen that the petioles of some other leaf- climbing plants are affected by one-thirteenth of this latter weight. In this species, and in no other leaf-climber seen by me, a full- grown leaf is capable of clasping a stick; but in the greenhouse the movement was so extraordinarily slow that the act required several weeks; on each succeeding week it was clear that the petiole had become more and more curved, until at last it firmly clasped the stick.

The flexible petiole of a half or a quarter grown leaf which has clasped an object for three or four days increases much in thickness, and after several weeks becomes so wonderfully hard and rigid that it can hardly be removed from its support. On comparing a thin transverse slice of such a petiole with one from an older leaf growing close beneath, which had not clasped anything, its diameter was found to be fully doubled, and its structure greatly changed. In two other petioles similarly compared, and here represented, the increase in diameter was not quite so great. In the section of the petiole in its ordinary state (A), we see a semilunar band of cellular tissue (not well shown in the woodcut) differing slightly in appearance from that outside it, and including three closely approximate groups of dark vessels. Near the upper surface of the petiole, beneath two exterior ridges, there are two other small circular groups of vessels. In the section of the petiole (B) which had clasped during several weeks a stick, the two exterior ridges have become much less prominent, and the two groups of woody vessels beneath them much increased in diameter. The semilunar band has been converted into a complete ring of very hard, white, woody tissue, with lines radiating from the centre. The three groups of vessels, which, though near together, were before distinct, are now completely blended. The upper part of this ring of woody vessels, formed by the prolongation of the horns of the original semilunar band, is narrower than the lower part, and slightly less compact. This petiole after clasping the stick had actually become thicker than the stem from which it arose; and this was chiefly due to the increased thickness of the ring of wood. This ring presented, both in a transverse and longitudinal section, a closely similar structure to that of the stem. It is a singular morphological fact that the petiole should thus acquire a structure almost identically the same with that of the axis; and it is a still more singular physiological fact that so great a change should have been induced by the mere act of clasping a support. {23}

FUMARIACEAE.--Fumaria officinalis.--It could not have been anticipated that so lowly a plant as this Fumaria should have been a climber. It climbs by the aid of the main and lateral petioles of its compound leaves; and even the much-flattened terminal portion of the petiole can seize a support. I have seen a substance as soft as a withered blade of grass caught. Petioles which have clasped any object ultimately become rather thicker and more cylindrical. On lightly rubbing several petioles with a twig, they became perceptibly curved in 1 hr. 15 m., and subsequently straightened themselves. A stick gently placed in the angle between two sub-petioles excited them to move, and was almost clasped in 9 hrs. A loop of thread, weighing one-eighth of a grain, caused, after 12 hrs. and before 20 hrs, had elapsed, a considerable curvature; but it was never fairly clasped by the petiole. The young internodes are in continual movement, which is considerable in extent, but very irregular; a zigzag line, or a spire crossing itself; or a figure of 8 being formed. The course during 12 hrs., when traced on a bell-glass, apparently represented about four ellipses. The leaves themselves likewise move spontaneously, the main petioles curving themselves in accordance with the movements of the internodes; so that when the latter moved to one side, the petioles moved to the same side, then, becoming straight, reversed their curvature. The petioles, however, do not move over a wide space, as could be seen when a shoot was securely tied to a stick. The leaf in this case followed an irregular course, like that made by the internodes.

Adlumia cirrhosa.--I raised some plants late in the summer; they formed very fine leaves, but threw up no central stem. The first- formed leaves were not sensitive; some of the later ones were so, but only towards their extremities, which were thus enabled to clasp sticks. This could be of no service to the plant, as these leaves rose from the ground; but it showed what the future character of the plant would have been, had it grown tall enough to climb. The tip of one of these basal leaves, whilst young, described in 1 hr. 36 m. a narrow ellipse, open at one end, and exactly three inches in length; a second ellipse was broader, more irregular, and shorter, viz., only 2.5 inches in length, and was completed in 2 hrs. 2 m. From the analogy of Fumaria and Corydalis, I have no doubt that the internodes of Adlumia have the power of revolving.

Corydalis claviculata.--This plant is interesting from being in a condition so exactly intermediate between a leaf-climber and a tendril-bearer, that it might have been described under either head; but, for reasons hereafter assigned, it has been classed amongst tendril-bearers.

Besides the plants already described, Bignonia unguis and its close allies, though aided by tendrils, have clasping petioles. According to Mohl (p. 40), Cocculus Japonicus (one of the Menispermaceae) and a fern, the Ophioglossum Japonicum (p. 39), climb by their leaf-stalks.

We now come to a small section of plants which climb by means of the produced midribs or tips of their leaves.

LILIACEAE.--Gloriosa Plantii.--The stem of a half-grown plant continually moved, generally describing an irregular spire, but sometimes oval figures with the longer axes directed in different lines. It either followed the sun, or moved in an opposite course, and sometimes stood still before reversing its direction. One oval was completed in 3 hrs. 40 m.; of two horseshoe-shaped figures, one was completed in 4 hrs. 35 m. and the other in 3 hrs. The shoots, in their movements, reached points between four and five inches asunder. The young leaves, when first developed, stand up nearly vertically; but by the growth of the axis, and by the spontaneous bending down of the terminal half of the leaf, they soon become much inclined, and ultimately horizontal. The end of the leaf forms a narrow, ribbon- like, thickened projection, which at first is nearly straight, but by the time the leaf gets into an inclined position, the end bends downwards into a well-formed hook. This hook is now strong and rigid enough to catch any object, and, when caught, to anchor the plant and stop the revolving movement. Its inner surface is sensitive, but not in nearly so high a degree as that of the many before-described petioles; for a loop of string, weighing 1.64 grain, produced no effect. When the hook has caught a thin twig or even a rigid fibre, the point may be perceived in from 1 hr. to 3 hrs. to have curled a little inwards; and, under favourable circumstances, it curls round and permanently seizes an object in from 8 hrs. to 10 hrs. The hook when first formed, before the leaf has bent downwards, is but little sensitive. If it catches hold of nothing, it remains open and sensitive for a long time; ultimately the extremity spontaneously and slowly curls inwards, and makes a button-like, flat, spiral coil at the end of the leaf. One leaf was watched, and the hook remained open for thirty-three days; but during the last week the tip had curled so much inwards that only a very thin twig could have been inserted within it. As soon as the tip has curled so much inwards that the hook is converted into a ring, its sensibility is lost; but as long as it remains open some sensibility is retained.

Whilst the plant was only about six inches in height, the leaves, four or five in number, were broader than those subsequently produced; their soft and but little-attenuated tips were not sensitive, and did not form hooks; nor did the stem then revolve. At this early period of growth, the plant can support itself; its climbing powers are not required, and consequently are not developed. So again, the leaves on the summit of a full-grown flowering plant, which would not require to climb any higher, were not sensitive and could not clasp a stick. We thus see how perfect is the economy of nature.

COMMELYNACEAE.--Flagellaria Indica.--From dried specimens it is manifest that this plant climbs exactly like the Gloriosa. A young plant 12 inches in height, and bearing fifteen leaves, had not a single leaf as yet produced into a hook or tendril-like filament; nor did the stem revolve. Hence this plant acquires its climbing powers later in life than does the Gloriosa lily. According to Mohl (p.


CLIMBING PLANTS - 10/27

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