Insectivorous Plants eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 527 pages of information about Insectivorous Plants.
yet these particles must be infinitely smaller* than those of the phosphate of ammonia weighing the one-twenty-millionth of a grain.  These nerves then transmit some influence to the brain of the dog, which leads to action on its part.  With Drosera, the really marvellous fact is, that a plant without any specialised nervous system should be affected by such minute particles; but we have no grounds for assuming that other tissues could not be rendered as exquisitely susceptible to impressions from without if this were beneficial to the organism, as is the nervous system of the higher animals.

* My son, George Darwin, has calculated for me the diameter of a sphere of phosphate of ammonia (specific gravity 1.678), weighing the one-twenty-millionth of a grain, and finds it to be 1/1644 of an inch.  Now, Dr. Klein informs me that the smallest Micrococci, which are distinctly discernible under a power of 800 diameters, are estimated to be from .0002 to .0005 of a millimetre—­that is, from 1/50800 to 1/127000 of an inch—­in diameter.  Therefore, an object between 1/31 and 1/77 of the size of a sphere of the phosphate of ammonia of the above weight can be seen under a high power; and no one supposes that odorous particles, such as those emitted from the deer in the above illustration, could be seen under any power of the microscope.) [page 174]


  The effects of various other salts and acids on the leaves.

Salts of sodium, potassium, and other alkaline, earthy, and metallic salts—­Summary on the action of these salts—­Various acids—­Summary on their action.

Having found that the salts of ammonia were so powerful, I was led to investigate the action of some other salts.  It will be convenient, first, to give a list of the substances tried (including forty-nine salts and two metallic acids), divided into two columns, showing those which cause inflection, and those which do not do so, or only doubtfully.  My experiments were made by placing half-minim drops on the discs of leaves, or, more commonly, by immersing them in the solutions; and sometimes by both methods.  A summary of the results, with some concluding remarks, will then be given.  The action of various acids will afterwards be described.

Column 1 :  Salts causing inflectionColumn 2 :  Salts not causing inflection.

(Arranged in Groups according to the Chemical Classification in Watts’ ‘Dictionary of Chemistry.’)

Sodium carbonate, rapid inflection. :  Potassium carbonate:  slowly poisonous.  Sodium nitrate, rapid inflection. :  Potassium nitrate:  somewhat poisonous.  Sodium sulphate, moderately rapid inflection. :  Potassium sulphate.  Sodium phosphate, very rapid inflection. :  Potassium phosphate.  Sodium citrate, rapid inflection. :  Potassium citrate.  Sodium oxalate; rapid inflection.  Sodium chloride, moderately rapid inflection. :  Potassium chloride. [page 175]

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Insectivorous Plants from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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