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- The Power of Movement in Plants - 20/98 -


generally larger in extent than those without a pulvinus; nevertheless some of the latter moved through an angle of 90o. There is, however, one important difference in the two sets of cases; the nocturnal movements of cotyledons without pulvini, for instance, those in the Cruciferae, Cucurbitaceae, Githago, and Beta, never last even for a week, to any conspicuous degree. Pulvinated cotyledons, on the other hand, continue to rise at night for a much longer period, even for more than a month, as we shall now show. But the period no doubt depends largely on the temperature to which the seedlings are exposed and their consequent rate of development.

[Oxalis Valdiviana.--Some cotyledons which had lately opened and were horizontal on March 6th at noon, stood at night vertically up; on the 13th the first true leaf was formed, and was embraced at night by the cotyledons; on April 9th, after an interval of 35 days, six leaves were developed, and yet the cotyledons rose almost vertically at night. The cotyledons of another seedling, which when first observed had already produced a leaf, stood vertically at night and continued to do so for 11 additional days. After 16 days from the first observation two leaves were developed, and the cotyledons were still greatly raised at night. After 21 days the cotyledons during the day were deflected beneath the horizon, but at night were raised 45o [page 116] above it. After 24 days from the first observation (begun after a true leaf had been developed) the cotyledons ceased to rise at night.

Oxalis (Biophytum) sensitiva.--The cotyledons of several seedlings, 45 days after their first expansion, stood nearly vertical at night, and closely embraced either one or two true leaves which by this time had been formed. These seedlings had been kept in a very warm house, and their development had been rapid.

Oxalis corniculata.--The cotyledons do not stand vertical at night, but generally rise to an angle of about 45o above the horizon. They continued thus to act for 23 days after their first expansion, by which time two leaves had been formed; even after 29 days they still rose moderately above their horizontal or downwardly deflected diurnal position.

Mimosa pudica.--The cotyledons were expanded for the first time on Nov. 2nd, and stood vertical at night. On the 15th the first leaf was formed, and at night the cotyledons were vertical. On the 28th they behaved in the same manner. On Dec. 15th, that is after 44 days, the cotyledons were still considerably raised at night; but those of another seedling, only one day older, were raised very little.

Mimosa albida.--A seedling was observed during only 12 days, by which time a leaf had been formed, and the cotyledons were then quite vertical at night.

Trifolium subterraneum.--A seedling, 8 days old, had its cotyledons horizontal at 10.30 A.M. and vertical at 9.15 P.M. After an interval of two months, by which time the first and second true leaves had been developed, the cotyledons still performed the same movement. They had now increased greatly in size, and had become oval; and their petioles were actually .8 of an inch in length!

Trifolium strictum.--After 17 days the cotyledons still rose at night, but were not afterwards observed.

Lotus Jacoboeus.--The cotyledons of some seedlings having well-developed leaves rose to an angle of about 45o at night; and even after 3 or 4 whorls of leaves had been formed, the cotyledons rose at night considerably above their diurnal horizontal position.

Cassia mimosoides.--The cotyledons of this Indian species, 14 days after their first expansion, and when a leaf had been formed, stood during the day horizontal, and at night vertical.

Cassia sp? (a large S. Brazilian tree raised from seeds sent us [page 117] by F. Müller).--The cotyledons, after 16 days from their first expansion, had increased greatly in size with two leaves just formed. They stood horizontally during the day and vertically at night, but were not afterwards observed.

Cassia neglecta (likewise a S. Brazilian species).--A seedling, 34 days after the first expansion of its cotyledons, was between 3 and 4 inches in height, with 3 well-developed leaves; and the cotyledons, which during the day were nearly horizontal, at night stood vertical, closely embracing the young stem. The cotyledons of another seedling of the same age, 5 inches in height, with 4 well-developed leaves, behaved at night in exactly the same manner.]

It is known* that there is no difference in structure between the upper and lower halves of the pulvini of leaves, sufficient to account for their upward or downward movements. In this respect cotyledons offer an unusually good opportunity for comparing the structure of the two halves; for the cotyledons of Oxalis Valdiviana rise vertically at night, whilst those of O. rosea sink vertically; yet when sections of their pulvini were made, no clear difference could be detected between the corresponding halves of this organ in the two species which move so differently. With O. rosea, however, there were rather more cells in the lower than in the upper half, but this was likewise the case in one specimen of O. Valdiviana. the cotyledons of both species (3 ½ mm. in length) were examined in the morning whilst extended horizontally, and the upper surface of the pulvinus of O. rosea was then wrinkled transversely, showing that it was in a state of compression, and this might have been expected, as the cotyledons sink at night; with O. Valdiviana it was the lower surface which was wrinkled, and its cotyledons rise at night.

Trifolium is a natural genus, and the leaves of all

* Pfeffer, 'Die Period. Bewegungen,' 1875, p. 157. [page 118]

the species seen by us are pulvinated; so it is with the cotyledons of T. subterraneum and strictum, which stand vertically at night; whereas those of T. resupinatum exhibit not a trace of a pulvinus, nor of any nocturnal movement. This was ascertained by measuring the distance between the tips of the cotyledons of four seedlings at mid-day and at night. In this species, however, as in the others, the first-formed leaf, which is simple or not trifoliate, rises up and sleeps like the terminal leaflet on a mature plant.

In another natural genus, Oxalis, the cotyledons of O. Valdiviana, rosea, floribunda, articulata, and sensitiva are pulvinated, and all move at night into an upward or downward vertical position. In these several species the pulvinus is seated close to the blade of the cotyledon, as is the usual rule with most plants. Oxalis corniculata (var. Atro-purpurea) differs in several respects; the cotyledons rise at night to a very variable amount, rarely more than 45o; and in one lot of seedlings (purchased under the name of O. tropaeoloides, but certainly belonging to the above variety) they rose only from 5o to 15o above the horizon. The pulvinus is developed imperfectly and to an extremely variable degree, so that apparently it is tending towards abortion. No such case has hitherto, we believe, been described. It is coloured green from its cells containing chlorophyll; and it is seated nearly in the middle of the petiole, instead of at the upper end as in all the other species. The nocturnal movement is effected partly by its aid, and partly by the growth of the upper part of the petiole as in the case of plants destitute of a pulvinus. From these several reasons and from our having partially traced the development of the pulvinus from an early age, the case seems worth describing in some detail. [page 119]

[When the cotyledons of O. corniculata were dissected out of a seed from which they would soon have naturally emerged, no trace of a pulvinus could be detected; and all the cells forming the short petiole, 7 in number in a longitudinal row, were of nearly equal size. In seedlings one or two days old, the pulvinus was so indistinct that we thought at first that it did not exist; but in the middle of the petiole an ill-defined transverse zone of cells could be seen, which were much shorter than those both above and below, although of the same breadth with them. They presented the appearance of having been just formed by the transverse division of longer cells; and there can be little doubt that this had occurred, for the cells in the petiole which had

Fig. 64. Oxalis corniculata: A and B the almost rudimentary pulvini of the cotyledons of two rather old seedlings, viewed as transparent objects. Magnified 50 times.

been dissected out of the seed averaged in length 7 divisions of the micrometer (each division equalling .003 mm.), and were a little longer than those forming a well-developed pulvinus, which varied between 4 and 6 of these same divisions. After a few additional days the ill-defined zone of cells becomes distinct, and although it does not extend across the whole width of the petiole, and although the cells are of a green colour from containing chlorophyll, yet they certainly constitute a pulvinus, which as we shall presently see, acts as one. These small cells were arranged in longitudinal rows, and varied from 4 to 7 in number; and the cells themselves varied in length in different parts of the [page 120] same pulvinus and in different individuals. In the accompanying figures, A and B (Fig. 64), we have views of the epidermis* in the middle part of the petioles of two seedlings, in which the pulvinus was for this species well developed. They offer a striking contrast with the pulvinus of O. rosea (see former Fig. 63), or of O. Valdiviana. With the seedlings, falsely called O. tropaeoloides, the cotyledons of which rise very little at night, the small cells were still fewer in number and in parts formed a single transverse row, and in other parts short longitudinal rows of only two or three. Nevertheless they sufficed to attract the eye, when the whole petiole was viewed as a transparent object beneath the microscope. In these seedlings there could hardly be a doubt that the pulvinus was becoming rudimentary and tending to disappear; and this accounts for its great variability in structure and function.

In the following Table some measurements of the cells in fairly well-developed pulvini of O. corniculata are given:--

Seedling 1 day old, with cotyledon 2.3 mm. in length. Divisions of Micrometer.** Average length of cells of pulvinus..................................................6 to 7 Length of longest cell below the pulvinus..................................... 13 Length of longest cell above the pulvinus...................................... 20

Seedling 5 days old, cotyledon 3.1 mm. in length, with the pulvinus quite distinct. Average length of cells of pulvinus.................................................. 6 Length of longest cell below the pulvinus..................................... 22 Length of longest cell above the pulvinus...................................... 40

Seedling 8 days old, cotyledon 5 mm. in length, with a true leaf formed but not yet expanded. Average length of cells of pulvinus.................................................. 9


The Power of Movement in Plants - 20/98

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