Insectivorous Plants eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 462 pages of information about Insectivorous Plants.
Nor would it have been of any use if these tentacles could have [page 284] moved towards the middle of the lower surface, for there are no viscid glands there by which insects can be caught.  Although they have no power of movement, they are probably of some use by absorbing animal matter from any minute insect which may be caught by them, and by absorbing ammonia from the rain-water.  But their varying presence and size, and their irregular position, indicate that they are not of much service, and that they are tending towards abortion.  In a future chapter we shall see that Drosophyllum, with its elongated leaves, probably represents the condition of an early progenitor of the genus Drosera; and none of the tentacles of Drosophyllum, neither those on the upper nor lower surface of the leaves, are capable of movement when excited, though they capture numerous insects, which serve as nutriment.  Therefore it seems that Drosera binata has retained remnants of certain ancestral characters—­namely a few motionless tentacles on the backs of the leaves, and fairly well developed sessile glands—­which have been lost by most or all of the other species of the genus.]

Concluding Remarks.—­From what we have now seen, there can be little doubt that most or probably all the species of Drosera are adapted for catching insects by nearly the same means.  Besides the two Australian species above described, it is said* that two other species from this country, namely Drosera pallida and Drosera sulphurea, “close their leaves upon insects with “great rapidity:  and the same phenomenon is mani-"fested by an Indian species, D. lunata, and by several “of those of the Cape of Good Hope, especially by “D. trinervis.”  Another Australian species, Drosera heterophylla (made by Lindley into a distinct genus, Sondera) is remarkable from its peculiarly shaped leaves, but I know nothing of its power of catching insects, for I have seen only dried specimens.  The leaves form minute flattened cups, with the footstalks attached not to one margin, but to the bottom.  The

* ‘Gardener’s Chronicle,’ 1874, p. 209. [page 285]

inner surface and the edges of the cups are studded with tentacles, which include fibro-vascular bundles, rather different from those seen by me in any other species; for some of the vessels are barred and punctured, instead of being spiral.  The glands secrete copiously, judging from the quantity of dried secretion adhering to them. [page 286]

CHAPTER XIII.

DIONAEA MUSCIPULA.

Structure of the leaves—­Sensitiveness of the filaments—­Rapid movement of the lobes caused by irritation of the filaments—­Glands, their power of secretion—­Slow movement caused by the absorption of animal matter—­Evidence of absorption from the aggregated condition of the glands—­Digestive power of the secretion—­Action of chloroform, ether, and hydrocyanic acid- -The manner in which insects are captured—­Use of the marginal spikes—­Kinds of insects captured—­The transmission of the motor impulse and mechanism of the movements—­ Re-expansion of the lobes.

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Insectivorous Plants from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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