With Desmodium gyrans the two lateral leaflets are very much smaller than the corresponding leaflets in most of the species in this large genus; they vary also in position and size; one or both are sometimes absent; and they do not sleep like the fully-developed leaflets. They may therefore be considered as almost rudimentary; and in accordance with the general principles of embryology, they ought to be more constantly and fully developed on very young than on old plants. But this is not the case, for they were quite absent on some young seedlings, and did not appear until from 10 to 20 leaves had been formed. This fact leads to the suspicion that D. gyrans is descended through a unifoliate form (of which some exist) from a trifoliate species; and that the little lateral leaflets reappear through reversion. However this may be, [page 417] the interesting fact of the pulvini or organs of movement of these little leaflets, not having been reduced nearly so much as their blades—taking the large terminal leaflet as the standard of comparison—gives us probably the proximate cause of their extraordinary power of gyration. [page 418]
Modified circumnutation: Movements excited by light.
Distinction between heliotropism and the effects of light on the periodicity of the movements of leaves—Heliotropic movements of Beta, Solanum, Zea, and Avena—Heliotropic movements towards an obscure light in Apios, Brassica, Phalaris, Tropaeolum, and Cassia—Apheliotropic movements of tendrils of Bignonia—Of flower-peduncles of Cyclamen—Burying of the pods—Heliotropism and apheliotropism modified forms of circumnutation— Steps by which one movement is converted into the other— Transversal-heliotropismus or diaheliotropism influenced by epinasty, the weight of the part and apogeotropism—Apogeotropism overcome during the middle of the day by diaheliotropism—Effects of the weight of the blades of cotyledons—So called diurnal sleep—Chlorophyll injured by intense light—Movements to avoid intense light
Sachs first clearly pointed out the important difference between the action of light in modifying the periodic movements of leaves, and in causing them to bend towards its source.* The latter, or heliotropic movements are determined by the direction of the light, whilst periodic movements are affected by changes in its intensity and not by its direction. The periodicity of the circumnutating movement often continues for some time in darkness, as we have seen in the last chapter; whilst heliotropic bending ceases very quickly when the light fails. Nevertheless, plants which have ceased through long-continued darkness to move periodically, if re-exposed to the light are still, according to Sachs, heliotropic.
Apheliotropism, or, as usually designated, negative
* ‘Physiologie Veg.’ (French Translation), 1868, pp. 42, 517, etc. [page 419]