Insectivorous Plants eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 527 pages of information about Insectivorous Plants.

On both the upper and lower surface of the blade there are numerous minute, almost sessile glands, consisting of four, eight, or twelve cells.  On the lower surface they are pale purple, on the upper greenish.  Nearly similar organs occur on the foot-stalks, but they are smaller and often in a shrivelled condition.  The minute glands on the blade can absorb rapidly:  thus, a piece of leaf was immersed in a solution of one part of carbonate [page 283] of ammonia to 218 of water (1 gr. to 2 oz.), and in 5 m. they were all so much darkened as to be almost black, with their contents aggregated.  They do not, as far as I could observe, secrete spontaneously; but in between 2 and 3 hrs. after a leaf had been rubbed with a bit of raw meat moistened with saliva, they seemed to be secreting freely; and this conclusion was afterwards supported by other appearances.  They are, therefore, homologous with the sessile glands hereafter to be described on the leaves of Dionaea and Drosophyllum.  In this latter genus they are associated, as in the present case, with glands which secrete spontaneously, that is, without being excited.

Drosera binata presents another and more remarkable peculiarity, namely, the presence of a few tentacles on the backs of the leaves, near their margins.  These are perfect in structure; spiral vessels run up their pedicels; their glands are surrounded by drops of viscid secretion, and they have the power of absorbing.  This latter fact was shown by the glands immediately becoming black, and the protoplasm aggregated, when a leaf was placed in a little solution of one part of carbonate of ammonia to 437 of water.  These dorsal tentacles are short, not being nearly so long as the marginal ones on the upper surface; some of them are so short as almost to graduate into the minute sessile glands.  Their presence, number, and size, vary on different leaves, and they are arranged rather irregularly.  On the back of one leaf I counted as many as twenty-one along one side.

These dorsal tentacles differ in one important respect from those on the upper surface, namely, in not possessing any power of movement, in whatever manner they may be stimulated.  Thus, portions of four leaves were placed at different times in solutions of carbonate of ammonia (one part to 437 or 218 of water), and all the tentacles on the upper surface soon became closely inflected; but the dorsal ones did not move, though the leaves were left in the solution for many hours, and though their glands from their blackened colour had obviously absorbed some of the salt.  Rather young leaves should be selected for such trials, for the dorsal tentacles, as they grow old and begin to wither, often spontaneously incline towards the middle of the leaf.  If these tentacles had possessed the power of movement, they would not have been thus rendered more serviceable to the plant; for they are not long enough to bend round the margin of the leaf so as to reach an insect caught on the upper surface,

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Insectivorous Plants from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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