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- The Power of Movement in Plants - 10/98 -
across its summit, illuminated from above, traced on horizontal glass, from 9.26 A.M. to 9.53 P.M. on Oct. 25th. Movement of the bead magnified 30 times, here reduced to one-third of original scale.
expanded, is shown in the annexed figure (Fig. 36), which apparently represents four or five irregular ellipses, described in the course of a little over 12 hours. Two older seedlings were similarly observed, excepting that one of them was kept in the dark; their hypocotyls also circumnutated, but in a more simple manner. The cotyledons on a seedling exposed to the light fell from the early morning until a little after noon, and then continued to rise until 10.30 P.M. or later. The cotyledons of this same seedling acted in the same general manner during the two following days. It had previously been tried in the dark, and after being thus kept for only 1 h. 40 m. the cotyledons began at 4.30 P.M. to sink, instead of continuing to rise till late at night. [page 50]
Nolana prostrata (Nolaneae).--The movements were not traced, but a pot with seedlings, which had been kept in the dark for an hour, was placed under the microscope, with the micrometer eye-piece so adjusted that each division equalled 1/500th of an inch. The apex of one of the cotyledons crossed rather obliquely four divisions in 13 minutes; it was also sinking, as shown by getting out of focus. The seedlings were again placed in darkness for another hour, and the apex now crossed two divisions in 6 m. 18 s.; that is, at very nearly the same rate as before. After another interval of an hour in darkness, it crossed two divisions in 4 m. 15 s., therefore at a quicker rate. In the afternoon, after a longer interval in the dark, the apex was motionless, but after a time it recommenced moving, though slowly; perhaps the room was too cold. Judging from previous cases, there can hardly be a doubt that this seedling was circumnutating.
Fig. 37. Solanum lycopersicum: circumnutation of hypocotyl, with filament fixed across its summit, traced on horizontal glass, from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. Oct. 24th. Illuminated obliquely from above. Movement of bead magnified about 35 times, here reduced to one-third of original scale.
Solanum lycopersicum (Solaneae).--The movements of the hypocotyls of two seedling tomatoes were observed during seven hours, and there could be no doubt that both circumnutated. They were illuminated from above, but by an accident a little light entered on one side, and in the accompanying figure (Fig. 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. to 2 P.M., then moved laterally, and from 3 to 6 P.M. descended; whereas cotyledons which have been exposed all the day to the light rise in the evening so as to stand vertically at night; but this statement applies only to young seedlings. For instance, six seedlings in the greenhouse had their cotyledons partially open for the first time on the morning of November 15th, and at 8.45 P.M. all were completely closed, so that they might properly be said to be asleep. Again, on the morning of November 27th, the cotyledons of four other seedlings, which were surrounded by a collar of brown paper so that they received light only from above, were open to the extent of 39o; at 10 P.M. they were completely closed; next morning (November 28th) at 6.45 A.M. whilst it was still dark, two of them [page 53] were partially open and all opened in the course of the morning; but at 10.20 P.M. all four (not to mention nine others which had been open in the morning and six others on another occasion) were again completely closed. On the morning of the 29th they were open, but at night only one of the four was closed, and this only partially; the three others had their cotyledons much more raised than during the day. On the night of the 30th the cotyledons of the four were only slightly raised.
Ricinus Borboniensis (Euphorbiaceae).--Seeds were purchased under the above name--probably a variety of the common castor-oil plant. As soon as an arched hypocotyl had risen clear above the ground, a filament was attached to the upper leg bearing the cotyledons which were still buried beneath the surface, and the movement of the bead was traced on a horizontal glass during a period of 34 h. The lines traced were strongly zigzag, and as the bead twice returned nearly parallel to its former course in two different directions, there could be no doubt that the arched hypocotyl circumnutated. At the close of the 34 h. the upper part began to rise and straighten itself, dragging the cotyledons out of the ground, so that the movements of the bead could no longer be traced on the glass.
Quercus (American sp.) (Cupuliferae).--Acorns of an American oak which had germinated at Kew were planted in a pot in the greenhouse. This transplantation checked their growth; but after a time one grew to a height of five inches, measured to the tips of the small partially unfolded leaves on the summit, and now looked vigorous. It consisted of six very thin internodes of unequal lengths. Considering these circumstances and the nature of the plant, we hardly expected that it would circumnutate; but the annexed figure (Fig. 40) shows that it did so in a conspicuous manner, changing its course many times and travelling in all directions during the 48 h. of observation. The figure seems to represent 5 or 6 irregular ovals or ellipses. The actual amount of movement from side to side (excluding one great bend to the left) was about .2 of an inch; but this was difficult to estimate, as owing to the rapid growth of the stem, the attached filament was much further from the mark beneath at the close than at the commencement of the observations. It deserves notice that the pot was placed in a north-east room within a deep box, the top of which was not at first covered up, so that the inside facing [page 54] the windows was a little more illuminated than the opposite side; and during the first morning the stem travelled to a greater distance in this direction (to the left in the figure) than it did afterwards when the box was completely protected from light.
Fig. 40. Quercus (American sp.): circumnutation of young stem, traced on horizontal glass, from 12.50 P.M. Feb. 22nd to 12.50 P.M. 24th. Movement of bead greatly magnified at first, but slightly towards the close of the observations--about 10 times on an average.
Quercus robur.--Observations were made only on the movements of the radicles from germinating acorns, which were allowed to grow downwards in the manner previously described, over plates of smoked glass, inclined at angles between 65o and 69o to the horizon. In four cases the tracks left were almost straight, but the tips had pressed sometimes with more and sometimes with less force on the glass, as shown by the varying thickness of the tracks and by little bridges of soot left across them. In the fifth case the track was slightly serpentine, that is, the tip had moved a little from side to side. In the sixth case (Fig. 41, A) it was plainly serpentine, and the tip had pressed almost equably on the glass in its whole course. In the seventh case (B) the tip had moved both laterally and had pressed [page 55] alternately with unequal force on the glass; so that it had moved a little in two planes at right angles to one another. In the eighth and last case (C) it had moved very little laterally, but had alternately left the glass and come into contact with it again. There can be no doubt that in the last four cases the radicle of the oak circumnutated whilst growing downwards.
Fig. 41. Quercus robur: tracks left on inclined smoked glass-plates by tips of radicles in growing downwards. Plates A and C inclined at 65o and plate B at 68o to the horizon.
Corylus avellana (Corylaceae).--The epicotyl breaks through the ground in an arched form; but in the specimen which was first examined, the apex had become decayed, and the epicotyl grew to some distance through the soil, in a tortuous, almost horizontal direction, like a root. In consequence of this injury it had emitted near the hypogean cotyledons two secondary shoots, and it was remarkable that both of these were arched, like the normal epicotyl in ordinary cases. The soil was removed from around one of these arched secondary shoots, and a glass filament was affixed to the basal leg. The whole was kept damp beneath a metal-box with a glass lid,
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