THE MOVEMENTS OF THE TENTACLES FROM THE CONTACT OF SOLID BODIES.
Inflection of the exterior tentacles owing to the glands of the disc being excited by repeated touches, or by objects left in contact with them—Difference in the action of bodies yielding and not yielding soluble nitrogenous matter—Inflection of the exterior tentacles directly caused by objects left in contact with their glands—Periods of commencing inflection and of subsequent re-expansion—Extreme minuteness of the particles causing inflection—Action under water—Inflection of the exterior tentacles when their glands are excited by repeated touches—Falling drops of water do not cause inflection.
I will give in this and the following chapters some of the many experiments made, which best illustrate the manner and rate of movement of the tentacles, when excited in various ways. The glands alone in all ordinary cases are susceptible to excitement. When excited, they do not themselves move or change form, but transmit a motor impulse to the bending part of their own and adjoining tentacles, and are thus carried towards the centre of the leaf. Strictly speaking, the glands ought to be called irritable, as the term sensitive generally implies consciousness; but no one supposes that the Sensitive-plant is conscious, and as I have found the term convenient, I shall use it without scruple. I will commence with the movements of the exterior tentacles, when indirectly excited by stimulants applied to the glands of the short tentacles on the disc. The exterior tentacles may be said in this case to be indirectly excited, because their own glands are not directly acted on. The stimulus proceeding from the glands of the disc acts on the bending part of the [page 20] exterior tentacles, near their bases, and does not (as will hereafter be proved) first travel up the pedicels to the glands, to be then reflected back to the bending place. Nevertheless, some influence does travel up to the glands, causing them to secrete more copiously, and the secretion to become acid. This latter fact is, I believe, quite new in the physiology of plants; it has indeed only recently been established that in the animal kingdom an influence can be transmitted along the nerves to glands, modifying their power of secretion, independently of the state of the blood-vessels.
The Inflection of the Exterior Tentacles from the Glands of the Disc being excited by Repeated Touches, or by Objects left in Contact with them.
The central glands of a leaf were irritated with a small stiff camel-hair brush, and in 70 m. (minutes) several of the outer tentacles were inflected; in 5 hrs. (hours) all the sub-marginal tentacles were inflected; next morning after an interval of about 22 hrs. they were fully re-expanded. In all the following cases the period is reckoned from the time of first irritation. Another leaf treated in