Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything
- Insectivorous Plants - 50/80 -
glands, being thus excited, send back some other influence (not dependent on increased secretion, nor on the inflection of the tentacles), causing the protoplasm to aggregate in cell beneath cell. This may [page 277] be called a reflex action, though probably very different from that proceeding from the nerve-ganglion of an animal; and it is the only known case of reflex action in the vegetable kingdom.
About the mechanism of the movements and the nature of the motor impulse we know very little. During the act of inflection fluid certainly travels from one part to another of the tentacles. But the hypothesis which agrees best with the observed facts is that the motor impulse is allied in nature to the aggregating process; and that this causes the molecules of the cell-walls to approach each other, in the same manner as do the molecules of the protoplasm within the cells; so that the cell-walls contract. But some strong objections may be urged against this view. The re-expansion of the tentacles is largely due to the elasticity of their outer cells, which comes into play as soon as those on the inner side cease contracting with prepotent force; but we have reason to suspect that fluid is continually and slowly attracted into the outer cells during the act of re-expansion, thus increasing their tension.
I have now given a brief recapitulation of the chief points observed by me, with respect to the structure, movements, constitution, and habits of Drosera rotundifolia; and we see how little has been made out in comparison with what remains unexplained and unknown. [page 278]
ON THE STRUCTURE AND MOVEMENTS OF SOME OTHER SPECIES OF DROSERA.
Drosera anglica--Drosera intermedia--Drosera capensis--Drosera spathulata--Drosera filiformis--Drosera binata--Concluding remarks.
I EXAMINED six other species of Drosera, some of them inhabitants of distant countries, chiefly for the sake of ascertaining whether they caught insects. This seemed the more necessary as the leaves of some of the species differ to an extraordinary degree in shape from the rounded ones of Drosera rotundifolia. In functional powers, however, they differ very little.
[Drosera anglica (Hudson).*--The leaves of this species, which was sent to me from Ireland, are much elongated, and gradually widen from the footstalk to the bluntly pointed apex. They stand almost erect, and their blades sometimes exceed 1 inch in length, whilst their breadth is only the 1/5 of an inch. The glands of all the tentacles have the same structure, so that the extreme marginal ones do not differ from the others, as in the case of Drosera rotundifolia. When they are irritated by being roughly touched, or by the pressure of minute inorganic particles, or by contact with animal matter, or by the absorption of carbonate of ammonia, the tentacles become inflected; the basal portion being the chief seat of movement. Cutting or pricking the blade of the leaf did not excite any movement. They frequently capture insects, and the glands of the inflected tentacles pour forth much acid secretion. Bits of roast meat were placed on some glands, and the tentacles began to move in 1 m. or
* Mrs. Treat has given an excellent account in 'The American Naturalist,' December 1873, p. 705, of Drosera longifolia (which is a synonym in part of Drosera anglica), of Drosera rotundifolia and filiformis. [page 279]
1 m. 30 s.; and in 1 hr. 10 m. reached the centre. Two bits of boiled cork, one of boiled thread, and two of coal-cinders taken from the fire, were placed, by the aid of an instrument which had been immersed in boiling water, on five glands; these superfluous precautions having been taken on account of M. Ziegler's statements. One of the particles of cinder caused some inflection in 8 hrs. 45 m., as did after 23 hrs. the other particle of cinder, the bit of thread, and both bits of cork. Three glands were touched half a dozen times with a needle; one of the tentacles became well inflected in 17 m., and re-expanded after 24 hrs.; the two others never moved. The homogeneous fluid within the cells of the tentacles undergoes aggregation after these have become inflected; especially if given a solution of carbonate of ammonia; and I observed the usual movements in the masses of protoplasm. In one case, aggregation ensued in 1 hr. 10 m. after a tentacle had carried a bit of meat to the centre. From these facts it is clear that the tentacles of Drosera anglica behave like those of Drosera rotundifolia.
If an insect is placed on the central glands, or has been naturally caught there, the apex of the leaf curls inwards. For instance, dead flies were placed on three leaves near their bases, and after 24 hrs. the previously straight apices were curled completely over, so as to embrace and conceal the flies; they had therefore moved through an angle of 180o. After three days the apex of one leaf, together with the tentacles, began to re-expand. But as far as I have seen-- and I made many trials--the sides of the leaf are never inflected, and this is the one functional difference between this species and Drosera rotundifolia.
Drosera intermedia (Hayne).--This species is quite as common in some parts of England as Drosera rotundifolia. It differs from Drosera anglica, as far as the leaves are concerned, only in their smaller size, and in their tips being generally a little reflexed. They capture a large number of insects. The tentacles are excited into movement by all the causes above specified; and aggregation ensues, with movement of the protoplasmic masses. I have seen, through a lens, a tentacle beginning to bend in less than a minute after a particle of raw meat had been placed on the gland. The apex of the leaf curls over an exciting object as in the case of Drosera anglica. Acid secretion is copiously poured over captured insects. A leaf which had embraced a fly with all its tentacles re-expanded after nearly three days.
Drosera capensis.--This species, a native of the Cape of Good Hope, was sent to me by Dr. Hooker. The leaves are elongated, slightly concave along the middle and taper towards the apex, [page 280] which is bluntly pointed and reflexed. They rise from an almost woody axis, and their greatest peculiarity consists in their foliaceous green footstalks, which are almost as broad and even longer than the gland-bearing blade. This species, therefore, probably draws more nourishment from the air, and less from captured insects, than the other species of the genus. Nevertheless, the tentacles are crowded together on the disc, and are extremely numerous; those on the margins being much longer than the central ones. All the glands have the same form; their secretion is extremely viscid and acid.
The specimen which I examined had only just recovered from a weak state of health. This may account for the tentacles moving very slowly when particles of meat were placed on the glands, and perhaps for my never succeeding in causing any movement by repeatedly touching them with a needle. But with all the species of the genus this latter stimulus is the least effective of any. Particles of glass, cork, and coal-cinders, were placed on the glands of six tentacles; and one alone moved after an interval of 2 hrs. 30 m. Nevertheless, two glands were extremely sensitive to very small doses of the nitrate of ammonia, namely to about 1/20 of a minim of a solution (one part to 5250 of water), containing only 1/115200 of a grain (.000562 mg.) of the salt. Fragments of flies were placed on two leaves near their tips, which became incurved in 15 hrs. A fly was also placed in the middle of the leaf; in a few hours the tentacles on each side embraced it, and in 8 hrs. the whole leaf directly beneath the fly was a little bent transversely. By the next morning, after 23 hrs., the leaf was curled so completely over that the apex rested on the upper end of the footstalk. In no case did the sides of the leaves become inflected. A crushed fly was placed on the foliaceous footstalk, but produced no effect.
Drosera spathulata (sent to me by Dr. Hooker).--I made only a few observations on this Australian species, which has long, narrow leaves, gradually widening towards their tips. The glands of the extreme marginal tentacles are elongated and differ from the others, as in the case of Drosera rotundifolia. A fly was placed on a leaf, and in 18 hrs. it was embraced by the adjoining tentacles. Gum-water dropped on several leaves produced no effect. A fragment of a leaf was immersed in a few drops of a solution of one part of carbonate of ammonia to 146 of water; all the glands were instantly blackened; the process of aggregation could be seen travelling rapidly down the cells of the tentacles; and the granules of protoplasm soon united into spheres and variously shaped masses, which displayed the usual move- [page 281] ments. Half a minim of a solution of one part of nitrate of ammonia to 146 of water was next placed on the centre of a leaf; after 6 hrs. some marginal tentacles on both sides were inflected, and after 9 hrs. they met in the centre. The lateral edges of the leaf also became incurved, so that it formed a half-cylinder; but the apex of the leaf in none of my few trials was inflected. The above dose of the nitrate (viz. 1/320 of a grain, or .202 mg.) was too powerful, for in the course of 23 hrs. the leaf died.
Drosera filiformis.--This North American species grows in such abundance in parts of New Jersey as almost to cover the ground. It catches, according to Mrs. Treat,* an extraordinary number of small and large insects, even great flies of the genus Asilus, moths, and butterflies. The specimen which I examined, sent me by Dr. Hooker, had thread-like leaves, from 6 to 12 inches in length, with the upper surface convex and the lower flat and slightly channelled. The whole convex surface, down to the roots--for there is no distinct footstalk--is covered with short gland-bearing tentacles, those on the margins being the longest and reflexed. Bits of meat placed on the glands of some tentacles caused them to be slightly inflected in 20 m.; but the plant was not in a vigorous state. After 6 hrs. they moved through an angle of 90o, and in 24 hrs. reached the centre. The surrounding tentacles by this time began to curve inwards. Ultimately a large drop of extremely viscid, slightly acid secretion was poured over the meat from the united glands. Several other glands were touched with a little saliva, and the tentacles became incurved in under 1 hr., and re-expanded after 18 hrs. Particles of glass, cork, cinders, thread, and gold-leaf, were placed on numerous glands on two leaves; in about 1 hr. four tentacles became curved, and four others after an additional interval of 2 hrs. 30 m. I never once succeeded in causing any movement by repeatedly touching the glands with a needle; and Mrs. Treat made similar trials for me with no success. Small flies were placed on several leaves near their tips, but the thread-like blade became only on one occasion very slightly bent, directly beneath the insect. Perhaps this indicates that the blades of vigorous plants would bend over captured insects, and Dr. Canby informs me that this is the case; but the movement cannot be strongly pronounced, as it was not observed by Mrs. Treat.
Drosera binata (or dichotoma).--I am much indebted to Lady
* 'American Naturalist,' December 1873, page 705. [page 282]
Dorothy Nevill for a fine plant of this almost gigantic Australian species, which differs in some interesting points from those previously described. In this specimen the rush-like footstalks of the leaves were 20 inches in length. The blade bifurcates at its junction with the
Previous Page Next Page
1 10 20 30 40 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 60 70 80
Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything