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- CLIMBING PLANTS - 2/27 -


straight lines on living stems, and then allowing them to twine; but, as I shall have to recur to this subject under Tendrils, it may be here passed over.

The revolving movement of a twining plant has been compared with that of the tip of a sapling, moved round and round by the hand held some way down the stem; but there is one important difference. The upper part of the sapling when thus moved remains straight; but with twining plants every part of the revolving shoot has its own separate and independent movement. This is easily proved; for when the lower half or two-thirds of a long revolving shoot is tied to a stick, the upper free part continues steadily revolving. Even if the whole shoot, except an inch or two of the extremity, be tied up, this part, as I have seen in the case of the Hop, Ceropegia, Convolvulus, &c., goes on revolving, but much more slowly; for the internodes, until they have grown to some little length, always move slowly. If we look to the one, two, or several internodes of a revolving shoot, they will be all seen to be more or less bowed, either during the whole or during a large part of each revolution. Now if a coloured streak be painted (this was done with a large number of twining plants) along, we will say, the convex surface, the streak will after a time (depending on the rate of revolution) be found to be running laterally along one side of the bow, then along the concave side, then laterally on the opposite side, and, lastly, again on the originally convex surface. This clearly proves that during the revolving movement the internodes become bowed in every direction. The movement is, in fact, a continuous self-bowing of the whole shoot, successively directed to all points of the compass; and has been well designated by Sachs as a revolving nutation.

As this movement is rather difficult to understand, it will be well to give an illustration. Take a sapling and bend it to the south, and paint a black line on the convex surface; let the sapling spring up and bend it to the east, and the black line will be seen to run along the lateral face fronting the north; bend it to the north, the black line will be on the concave surface; bend it to the west, the line will again be on the lateral face; and when again bent to the south, the line will be on the original convex surface. Now, instead of bending the sapling, let us suppose that the cells along its northern surface from the base to the tip were to grow much more rapidly than on the three other sides, the whole shoot would then necessarily be bowed to the south; and let the longitudinal growing surface creep round the shoot, deserting by slow degrees the northern side and encroaching on the western side, and so round by the south, by the east, again to the north. In this case the shoot would remain always bowed with the painted line appearing on the several above specified surfaces, and with the point of the shoot successively directed to each point of the compass. In fact, we should have the exact kind of movement performed by the revolving shoots of twining plants. {9}

It must not be supposed that the revolving movement is as regular as that given in the above illustration; in very many cases the tip describes an ellipse, even a very narrow ellipse. To recur once again to our illustration, if we suppose only the northern and southern surfaces of the sapling alternately to grow rapidly, the summit would describe a simple arc; if the growth first travelled a very little to the western face, and during the return a very little to the eastern face, a narrow ellipse would be described; and the sapling would be straight as it passed to and fro through the intermediate space; and a complete straightening of the shoot may often be observed in revolving plants. The movement is frequently such that three of the sides of the shoot seem to be growing in due order more rapidly than the remaining side; so that a semi-circle instead of a circle is described, the shoot becoming straight and upright during half of its course.

When a revolving shoot consists of several internodes, the lower ones bend together at the same rate, but one or two of the terminal ones bend at a slower rate; hence, though at times all the internodes are in the same direction, at other times the shoot is rendered slightly serpentine. The rate of revolution of the whole shoot, if judged by the movement of the extreme tip, is thus at times accelerated or retarded. One other point must be noticed. Authors have observed that the end of the shoot in many twining plants is completely hooked; this is very general, for instance, with the Asclepiadaceae. The hooked tip, in all the cases observed by me, viz, in Ceropegia, Sphaerostemma, Clerodendron, Wistaria, Stephania, Akebia, and Siphomeris, has exactly the same kind of movement as the other internodes; for a line painted on the convex surface first becomes lateral and then concave; but, owing to the youth of these terminal internodes, the reversal of the hook is a slower process than that of the revolving movement. {10} This strongly marked tendency in the young, terminal and flexible internodes, to bend in a greater degree or more abruptly than the other internodes, is of service to the plant; for not only does the hook thus formed sometimes serve to catch a support, but (and this seems to be much more important) it causes the extremity of the shoot to embrace the support much more closely than it could otherwise have done, and thus aids in preventing the stem from being blown away during windy weather, as I have many times observed. In Lonicera brachypoda the hook only straightens itself periodically, and never becomes reversed. I will not assert that the tips of all twining plants when hooked, either reverse themselves or become periodically straight, in the manner just described; for the hooked form may in some cases be permanent, and be due to the manner of growth of the species, as with the tips of the shoots of the common vine, and more plainly with those of Cissus discolor--plants which are not spiral twiners.

The first purpose of the spontaneous revolving movement, or, more strictly speaking, of the continuous bowing movement directed successively to all points of the compass, is, as Mohl has remarked, to favour the shoot finding a support. This is admirably effected by the revolutions carried on night and day, a wider and wider circle being swept as the shoot increases in length. This movement likewise explains how the plants twine; for when a revolving shoot meets with a support, its motion is necessarily arrested at the point of contact, but the free projecting part goes on revolving. As this continues, higher and higher points are brought into contact with the support and are arrested; and so onwards to the extremity; and thus the shoot winds round its support. When the shoot follows the sun in its revolving course, it winds round the support from right to left, the support being supposed to stand in front of the beholder; when the shoot revolves in an opposite direction, the line of winding is reversed. As each internode loses from age its power of revolving, it likewise loses its power of spirally twining. If a man swings a rope round his head, and the end hits a stick, it will coil round the stick according to the direction of the swinging movement; so it is with a twining plant, a line of growth travelling round the free part of the shoot causing it to bend towards the opposite side, and this replaces the momentum of the free end of the rope.

All the authors, except Palm and Mohl, who have discussed the spiral twining of plants, maintain that such plants have a natural tendency to grow spirally. Mohl believes (p. 112) that twining stems have a dull kind of irritability, so that they bend towards any object which they touch; but this is denied by Palm. Even before reading Mohl's interesting treatise, this view seemed to me so probable that I tested it in every way that I could, but always with a negative result. I rubbed many shoots much harder than is necessary to excite movement in any tendril or in the foot-stalk of any leaf climber, but without any effect. I then tied a light forked twig to a shoot of a Hop, a Ceropegia, Sphaerostemma, and Adhatoda, so that the fork pressed on one side alone of the shoot and revolved with it; I purposely selected some very slow revolvers, as it seemed most likely that these would profit most from possessing irritability; but in no case was any effect produced. {11} Moreover, when a shoot winds round a support, the winding movement is always slower, as we shall immediately see, than whilst it revolves freely and touches nothing. Hence I conclude that twining stems are not irritable; and indeed it is not probable that they should be so, as nature always economizes her means, and irritability would have been superfluous. Nevertheless I do not wish to assert that they are never irritable; for the growing axis of the leaf-climbing, but not spirally twining, Lophospermum scandens is, certainly irritable; but this case gives me confidence that ordinary twiners do not possess any such quality, for directly after putting a stick to the Lophopermum, I saw that it behaved differently from a true twiner or any other leaf-climber. {12}

The belief that twiners have a natural tendency to grow spirally, probably arose from their assuming a spiral form when wound round a support, and from the extremity, even whilst remaining free, sometimes assuming this form. The free internodes of vigorously growing plants, when they cease to revolve, become straight, and show no tendency to be spiral; but when a shoot has nearly ceased to grow, or when the plant is unhealthy, the extremity does occasionally become spiral. I have seen this in a remarkable manner with the ends of the shoots of the Stauntonia and of the allied Akebia, which became wound up into a close spire, just like a tendril; and this was apt to occur after some small, ill-formed leaves had perished. The explanation, I believe, is, that in such cases the lower parts of the terminal internodes very gradually and successively lose their power of movement, whilst the portions just above move onwards and in their turn become motionless; and this ends in forming an irregular spire.

When a revolving shoot strikes a stick, it winds round it rather more slowly than it revolves. For instance, a shoot of the Ceropegia, revolved in 6 hrs., but took 9 hrs. 30 m. to make one complete spire round a stick; Aristolochia gigas revolved in about 5 hrs., but took 9 hrs. 15 m. to complete its spire. This, I presume, is due to the continued disturbance of the impelling force by the arrestment of the movement at successive points; and we shall hereafter see that even shaking a plant retards the revolving movement. The terminal internodes of a long, much-inclined, revolving shoot of the Ceropegia, after they had wound round a stick, always slipped up it, so as to render the spire more open than it was at first; and this was probably in part due to the force which caused the revolutions, being now almost freed from the constraint of gravity and allowed to act freely. With the Wistaria, on the other hand, a long horizontal shoot wound itself at first into a very close spire, which remained unchanged; but subsequently, as the shoot twined spirally up its support, it made a much more open spire. With all the many plants which were allowed freely to ascend a support, the terminal internodes made at first a close spire; and this, during windy weather, served to keep the shoots in close contact with their support; but as the penultimate internodes grew in length, they pushed themselves up for a considerable space (ascertained by coloured marks on the shoot and on the support) round the stick, and the spire became more open. {13}

It follows from this latter fact that the position occupied by each leaf with respect to the support depends on the growth of the internodes after they have become spirally wound round it. I mention this on account of an observation by Palm (p. 34), who states that the opposite leaves of the Hop always stand in a row, exactly over one another, on the same side of the supporting stick, whatever its thickness may be. My sons visited a hop-field for me, and reported that though they generally found the points of insertion of the leaves standing over each other for a space of two or three feet in


CLIMBING PLANTS - 2/27

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