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- Insectivorous Plants - 40/80 -


causes after a time some degree of aggregation of the protoplasm, and a moderate amount of inflection, especially in the case of plants which have been kept at a rather high temperature. Water does not excite a copious secretion of mucus. We have here to consider the effects of immersion in various fluids on the subsequent action of salts of ammonia and other stimulants. Four leaves which had been left for 24 hrs. in water were given bits of meat, but did not clasp them. Ten leaves, after a similar immersion, were left for 24 hrs. in a powerful solution (1 gr. to 20 oz.) of phosphate of ammonia, and only one showed even a trace of inflection. Three of these leaves, on being left for an additional day in the solution, still remained quite unaffected. When, however, some of these leaves, which had been first immersed in water for 24 hrs., and then in the phosphate for 24 hrs. were placed in a solution of carbonate of ammonia (one part to 218 of water), the protoplasm in the cells of the tentacles became in a few hours strongly aggregated, showing that this salt had been absorbed and taken effect.

A short immersion in water for 20 m. did not retard the subsequent action of the phosphate, or of splinters of glass placed on the glands; but in two instances an immersion for 50 m. prevented any effect from a solution of camphor. Several leaves which had been left for 20 m. in a solution of one part of white sugar to 218 of water were placed in the phosphate solution, the action of which was delayed; whereas a mixed solution of sugar and the phosphate did not in the least interfere with the effects of the latter. Three leaves, after being immersed for 20 m. in the sugar solution, were placed in a solution of carbonate of ammonia (one part to 218 of water); in 2 m. or 3 m. the glands were blackened, and after 7 m. the tentacles were considerably inflected, so that the solution of sugar, though it delayed the action of the phosphate, did not delay that of the carbonate. Immersion in a similar solution of gum arabic for 20 m. had no retarding action on the phosphate. Three leaves were left for 20 m. in a mixture of one part of alcohol to seven parts of water, [page 214] and then placed in the phosphate solution: in 2 hrs. 15 m. there was a trace of inflection in one leaf, and in 5 hrs. 30 m. a second was slightly affected; the inflection subsequently increased, though slowly. Hence diluted alcohol, which, as we shall see, is hardly at all poisonous, plainly retards the subsequent action of the phosphate.

It was shown in the last chapter that leaves which did not become inflected by nearly a day's immersion in solutions of various salts and acids behaved very differently from one another when subsequently placed in the phosphate solution. I here give a table summing up the results.

Column 1 : Name of the Salts and Acids in Solution. Column 2 : Period of Immersion of the Leaves in Solutions of one part to 437 of water. Column 3 : Effects produced on the Leaves by their subsequent Immersion for stated periods in a Solution of one part of phosphate of ammonia to 8750 of water, or 1 gr. to 20 oz.

Rubidium chloride. : 22 hrs. : After 30 m. strong inflection of the tentacles.

Potassium carbonate : 20 m. : Scarcely any inflection until 5 hrs. had elapsed.

Calcium acetate. : 24 hrs. : After 24 hrs. very slight inflection.

Calcium nitrate. : 24 hrs. : Do. do.

Magnesium acetate. : 22 hrs. : Some slight inflection, which became well pronounced in 24 hrs.

Magnesium nitrate. : 22 hrs. : After 4 hrs. 30 m. a fair amount of inflection, which never increased.

Magnesium chloride : 22 hrs. : After a few minutes great inflection; after 4 hrs. all four leaves with almost every tentacle closely inflected.

Barium acetate. : 22 hrs. : After 24 hrs. two leaves out of four slightly inflected.

Barium nitrate. : 22 hrs. : After 30 m. one leaf greatly, and two others moderately, inflected; they remained thus for 24 hrs.

Strontium acetate. : 22 hrs. : After 25 m. two leaves greatly inflected; after 8 hrs. a third leaf moderately, and the fourth very slightly, inflected. All four thus remained for 24 hrs.

Strontium nitrate. : 22 hrs. : After 8 hrs. three leaves out of five moderately inflected; after 24 hrs. all five in this state; but not one closely inflected.

Aluminium chloride : 24 hrs. : Three leaves which had either been slightly or not at all affected by the chloride became after 7 hrs. 30 m. rather closely inflected. [page 215]

Column 1 : Name of the Salts and Acids in Solution. Column 2 : Period of Immersion of the Leaves in Solutions of one part to 437 of water. Column 3 : Effects produced on the Leaves by their subsequent Immersion for stated periods in a Solution of one part of phosphate of ammonia to 8750 of water, or 1 gr. to 20 oz.

Aluminium nitrate. : 24 hrs. : After 25 hrs. slight and doubtful effect.

Lead chloride. : 23 hrs. : After 24 hrs. two leaves somewhat inflected, the third very little; and thus remained.

Manganese chloride : 22 hrs. : After 48 hrs. not the least inflection.

Lactic acid. : 48 hrs. : After 24 hrs. a trace of inflection in a few tentacles, the glands of which had not been killed by the acid.

Tannic acid. : 24 hrs. : After 24 hrs. no inflection.

Tartaric acid. : 24 hrs. : Do. do.

Citric acid. : 24 hrs. : After 50 m. tentacles decidedly inflected, and after 5 hrs. strongly inflected; so remained for the next 24 hrs.

Formic acid. : 22 hrs. : Not observed until 24 hrs. had elapsed; tentacles considerably inflected, and protoplasm aggregated.

In a large majority of these twenty cases, a varying degree of inflection was slowly caused by the phosphate. In four cases, however, the inflection was rapid, occurring in less than half an hour or at most in 50 m. In three cases the phosphate did not produce the least effect. Now what are we to infer from these facts? We know from ten trials that immersion in distilled water for 24 hrs. prevents the subsequent action of the phosphate solution. It would, therefore, appear as if the solutions of chloride of manganese, tannic and tartaric acids, which are not poisonous, acted exactly like water, for the phosphate produced no effect on the leaves which had been previously immersed in these three solutions. The majority of the other solutions behaved to a certain extent like water, for the phosphate produced, after a considerable interval of time, only a slight effect. On the other hand, the leaves which had been immersed in the solutions of the chloride of rubidium and magnesium, of acetate of strontium, nitrate of barium, and citric acid, were quickly acted on by the phosphate. Now was water absorbed from these five weak solutions, and yet, owing to the presence of the salts, did not prevent the subsequent action of the phosphate? Or [page 216] may we not suppose* that the interstices of the walls of the glands were blocked up with the molecules of these five substances, so that they were rendered impermeable to water; for had water entered, we know from the ten trials that the phosphate would not afterwards have produced any effect? It further appears that the molecules of the carbonate of ammonia can quickly pass into glands which, from having been immersed for 20 m. in a weak solution of sugar, either absorb the phosphate very slowly or are acted on by it very slowly. On the other hand, glands, however they may have been treated, seem easily to permit the subsequent entrance of the molecules of carbonate of ammonia. Thus leaves which had been immersed in a solution (of one part to 437 of water) of nitrate of potassium for 48 hrs.--of sulphate of potassium for 24 hrs.--and of the chloride of potassium for 25 hrs.--on being placed in a solution of one part of carbonate of ammonia to 218 of water, had their glands immediately blackened, and after 1 hr. their tentacles somewhat inflected, and the protoplasm aggregated. But it would be an endless task to endeavour to ascertain the wonderfully diversified effects of various solutions on Drosera.

Alcohol (one part to seven of water).--It has already been shown that half-minims of this strength placed on the discs of leaves do not cause any inflection; and that when two days afterwards the leaves were given bits of meat, they became strongly inflected. Four leaves were immersed in this mixture, and two of them after 30 m. were brushed with a camel-hair brush, like the leaves in the solution of camphor, but this produced no effect.

* See Dr. M. Traube's curious experiments on the production of artificial cells, and on their permeability to various salts, described in his papers: "Experimente zur Theorie der Zellenbildung und Endosmose," Breslau, 1866; and "Experimente zur physicalischen Erklrung der Bildung der Zellhaut, ihres Wachsthums durch Intussusception," Breslau, 1874. These researches perhaps explain my results. Dr. Traube commonly employed as a membrane the precipitate formed when tannic acid comes into contact with a solution of gelatine. By allowing a precipitation of sulphate of barium to take place at the same time, the membrane becomes "infiltrated" with this salt; and in consequence of the intercalation of molecules of sulphate of barium among those of the gelatine precipitate, the molecular interstices in the membrane are made smaller. In this altered condition, the membrane no longer allows the passage through it of either sulphate of ammonia or nitrate of barium, though it retains its permeability for water and chloride of ammonia. [page 217]

Nor did these four leaves, on being left for 24 hrs. in the diluted alcohol, undergo any inflection. They were then removed; one being placed in an infusion of raw meat, and bits of meat on the discs of the other three, with their stalks in water. Next day one seemed a little injured, whilst two others showed merely a trace of inflection. We must, however, bear in mind that immersion for 24 hrs. in water prevents leaves from clasping meat. Hence alcohol of the above strength is not poisonous, nor does it stimulate the leaves like camphor does.

The vapour of alcohol acts differently. A plant having three good leaves was left for 25 m. under a receiver holding 19 oz. with sixty minims of alcohol in a watch-glass. No movement ensued, but some few of the glands were blackened and shrivelled, whilst many became quite pale. These were scattered over all the leaves in the most irregular manner, reminding me of the manner in which the glands were affected by the vapour of carbonate of ammonia. Immediately on the removal of the receiver particles of raw meat were placed on many of the glands, those which retained their proper colour being chiefly selected. But not a single tentacle was inflected during the next 4 hrs. After the first 2 hrs. the glands on all the tentacles began to dry; and next morning, after 22 hrs., all three leaves appeared almost dead, with their glands


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