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- The Power of Movement in Plants - 80/98 -


vertical glass, from 9.20 A.M., Sept. 12th to 8.30 A.M. 13th. The upper part of the figure is more magnified than the lower part. If the whole course had been traced, the straight upright line would have been much longer. Figure here reduced to one-third of the original scale.

Apogeotropism retarded by Heliotropism.--When the stem of any plant bends during the day towards a lateral light, the movement is opposed by apogeotropism; but as the light gradually wanes in the evening the latter power slowly gains the upper hand, and draws the stem back into a vertical position. Here then we have a good opportunity for observing how apogeotropism acts when very nearly balanced by an opposing force. For instance, the plumule of Tropaeolum majus (see former Fig. 175) moved towards the dim evening light in a slightly zigzag line until 6.45 P.M., it then returned on its course until [page 502] 10.40 P.M., during which time it zigzagged and described an ellipse of considerable size. The hypocotyl of Brassica oleracea (see former Fig. 173) moved in a straight line to the light until 5.15 P.M., and then from the light, making in its backward course a great rectangular bend, and then returned for a short distance towards the former source of the light; no observations were made after 7.10 P.M., but during the night it recovered its vertical position. A hypocotyl of Cassia tora moved in the evening in a somewhat zigzag line towards the failing light until 6 P.M., and was now bowed 20o from the perpendicular; it then returned on its course, making before 10.30 P.M. four great, nearly rectangular bends and almost completing an ellipse. Several other analogous cases were casually observed, and in all of them the apogeotropic movement could be seen to consist of modified circumnutation.

Apogeotropic Movements effected by the aid of joints or pulvini.--Movements of this kind are well known to occur in the Gramineae, and are effected by means of the thickened bases of their sheathing leaves; the stem within being in this part thinner than elsewhere.* According to the analogy of all other pulvini, such joints ought to continue circumnutating for a long period, after the adjoining parts have ceased to grow. We therefore wished to ascertain whether this was the case with the Gramineae; for if so, the upward curvature of their stems, when extended horizontally or laid prostrate, would be explained in accordance with our view--namely, that apogeotropism results from modified circumnutation. After these joints have curved upwards, they are fixed in their new position by increased growth along their lower sides.

Lolium perenne.--A young stem, 7 inches in height, consisting of 3 internodes, with the flower-head not yet protruded, was selected for observation. A long and very thin glass filament was cemented horizontally to the stem close above the second joint, 3 inches above the ground. This joint was subsequently proved to be in an active condition, as its lower side swelled much through the action of apogeotropism (in the manner described by De Vries) after the haulm had been fastened down for 24 h. in a horizontal position. The pot was

* This structure has been recently described by De Vries in an interesting article, 'Ueber die Aufrichtung des gelagerten Getreides,' in 'Landwirthschaftliche Jahrbücher,' 1880, p. 473. [page 503]

so placed that the end of the filament stood beneath the 2-inch object glass of a microscope with an eye-piece micrometer, each division of which equalled 1/500 of an inch. The end of the filament was repeatedly observed during 6 h., and was seen to be in constant movement; and it crossed 5 divisions of the micrometer (1/100 inch) in 2 h. Occasionally it moved forwards by jerks, some of which were 1/1000 inch in length, and then slowly retreated a little, afterwards again jerking forwards. These oscillations were exactly like those described under Brassica and Dionaea, but they occurred only occasionally. We may therefore conclude that this moderately old joint was continually circumnutating on a small scale.

Alopecurus pratensis.--A young plant, 11 inches in height, with the flower-head protruded, but with the florets not yet expanded, had a glass filament fixed close above the second joint, at a height of only 2 inches above the ground. The basal internode, 2 inches in length, was cemented to a stick to prevent any possibility of its circumnutating. The extremity of the filament, which projected about 50o above the horizon, was often observed during 24 h. in the same manner as in the last case. Whenever looked at, it was always in movement, and it crossed 30 divisions of the micrometer (3/50 inch) in 3 ½ h.; but it sometimes moved at a quicker rate, for at one time it crossed 5 divisions in 1 ½ h. The pot had to be moved occasionally, as the end of the filament travelled beyond the field of vision; but as far as we could judge it followed during the daytime a semicircular course; and it certainly travelled in two different directions at right angles to one another. It sometimes oscillated in the same manner as in the last species, some of the jerks forwards being as much as 1/1000 of an inch. We may therefore conclude that the joints in this and the last species of grass long continue to circumnutate; so that this movement would be ready to be converted into an apogeotropic movement, whenever the stem was placed in an inclined or horizontal position.

Movements of the Flower-peduncles of Oxalis carnosa, due to apogeotropism and other forces.--The movements of the main peduncle, and of the three or four sub-peduncles which each main peduncle of this plant bears, are extremely complex, and are determined by several distinct causes. Whilst the flowers are expanded, both kinds of peduncles circumnutate about the same spot, as we have seen (Fig. 91) in the fourth chapter. But soon after the flowers have begun to wither the sub- [page 504] peduncles bend downwards, and this is due to epinasty; for on two occasions when pots were laid horizontally, the sub-peduncles assumed the same position relatively to the main peduncle, as would have been the case if they had remained upright; that is, each of them formed with it an angle of about 40o. If they had been acted on by geotropism or apheliotropism (for the plant was illuminated from above), they would have directed themselves to the centre of the earth. A main peduncle was secured to a stick in an upright position, and one of the upright sub-peduncles which had been observed circumnutating whilst the flower was expanded, continued to do so for at least 24 h. after it had withered. It then began to bend downwards, and after 36 h. pointed a little beneath the horizon. A new figure was now begun (A, Fig. 188), and the sub-peduncle was traced descending in a zigzag line from 7.20 P.M. on the 19th to 9 A.M. on the 22nd. It now pointed almost perpendicularly downwards, and the glass filament had to be removed and fastened transversely across the base of the young capsule. We expected that the sub-peduncle would have been motionless in its new position; but it continued slowly to swing, like a pendulum, from side to side, that is, in a plane at right angles to that in which it had descended. This circumnutating movement was observed from 9 A.M. on 22nd to 9 A.M. 24th, as shown at B in the diagram. We were not able to observe this particular sub-peduncle any longer; but it would certainly have gone on circumnutating until the capsule was nearly ripe (which requires only a short time), and it would then have moved upwards.

The upward movement (C, Fig. 188) is effected in part by the whole sub-peduncle rising in the same manner as it had previously descended through epinasty--namely, at the joint where united to the main peduncle. As this upward movement occurred with plants kept in the dark and in whatever position the main peduncle was fastened, it could not have been caused by heliotropism or apogeotropism, but by hyponasty. Besides this movement at the joint, there is another of a very different kind, for the sub-peduncle becomes upwardly bent in the middle part. If the sub-peduncle happens at the time to be inclined much downwards, the upward curvature is so great that the whole forms a hook. The upper end bearing the capsule, thus always places itself upright, and as this occurs in darkness, and in whatever position the main peduncle may have been secured, [page 505] the upward curvature cannot be due to heliotropism or hyponasty, but to apogeotropism.

Fig. 188. Oxalis carnosa: movements of flower-peduncle, traced on a vertical glass: A, epinastic downward movement; B, circumnutation whilst depending vertically; C, subsequent upward movement, due to apogeotropism and hyponasty combined. [page 506]

In order to trace this upward movement, a filament was fixed to a sub-peduncle bearing a capsule nearly ripe, which was beginning to bend upwards by the two means just described. Its course was traced (see C, Fig 188) during 53 h., by which time it had become nearly upright. The course is seen to be strongly zigzag, together with some little loops. We may therefore conclude that the movement consists of modified circumnutation.

The several species of Oxalis probably profit in the following manner by their sub-peduncles first bending downwards and then upwards. They are known to scatter their seeds by the bursting of the capsule; the walls of which are so extremely thin, like silver paper, that they would easily be permeated by rain. But as soon as the petals wither, the sepals rise up and enclose the young capsule, forming a perfect roof over it as soon as the sub-peduncle has bent itself downwards. By its subsequent upward movement, the capsule stands when ripe at a greater height above the ground by twice the length of the sub-peduncle, than it did when dependent, and is thus able to scatter its seeds to a greater distance. The sepals, which enclose the ovarium whilst it is young, present an additional adaptation by expanding widely when the seeds are ripe, so as not to interfere with their dispersal. In the case of Oxalis acetosella, the capsules are said sometimes to bury themselves under loose leaves or moss on the ground, but this cannot occur with those of O. carnosa, as the woody stem is too high.

Oxalis acetosella.--The peduncles are furnished with a joint in

Fig. 189. Oxalis acetosella: course pursued by the upper part of a peduncle, whilst rising, traced from 11 A.M. June 1st to 9 A.M. 3rd. Figure here reduced to one-half of the original scale.

the middle, so that the lower part answers to the main peduncle, [page 507] and the upper part to one of the sub-peduncles of O. carnosa. The upper part bends downwards, after the flower has begun to wither, and the whole peduncle then forms a hook; that this bending is due to epinasty we may infer from the case of O. carnosa. When the pod is nearly ripe, the upper part straightens itself and becomes erect; and this is due to hyponasty or apogeotropism, or both combined, and not to heliotropism, for it occurred in darkness. The short, hooked part of the peduncle of a cleistogamic flower, bearing a pod nearly ripe, was observed in the dark during three days. The apex of the pod at first pointed perpendicularly down, but in the course of three days rose 90o, so that it now projected horizontally. The course during the two latter days is shown in Fig. 189; and it may be seen how greatly the peduncle, whilst rising, circumnutated. The lines of chief movement were at right angles to the plane of the originally hooked part. The tracing was not continued any longer; but after two additional days, the peduncle with its capsule had become straight and stood upright.]

Concluding Remarks on Apogeotropism.--When apogeotropism is rendered by any means feeble, it acts, as shown in the several foregoing cases, by increasing the always present circumnutating movement in a direction opposed to gravity, and by diminishing that in the direction of gravity, as well as that to either side. The upward movement thus becomes unequal in rate, and is sometimes interrupted by stationary periods. Whenever irregular ellipses or loops are still formed, their longer axes are almost always directed in the line of gravity, in an analogous manner as occurred with heliotropic movements in reference to the light. As apogeotropism acts more and more energetically, ellipses or loops cease to be formed, and the course becomes at first strongly, and then less and less zigzag, and finally rectilinear. From this gradation in the nature of the movement, and


The Power of Movement in Plants - 80/98

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