Insectivorous Plants eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 527 pages of information about Insectivorous Plants.
the same manner had a few tentacles inflected in 20 m.; in 4 hrs. all the submarginal and some of the extreme marginal tentacles, as well as the edge of the leaf itself, were inflected; in 17 hrs. they had recovered their proper, expanded position.  I then put a dead fly in the centre of the last-mentioned leaf, and next morning it was closely clasped; five days afterwards the leaf re-expanded, and the tentacles, with their glands surrounded by secretion, were ready to act again.

Particles of meat, dead flies, bits of paper, wood, dried moss, sponge, cinders, glass, &c., were repeatedly [page 21] placed on leaves, and these objects were well embraced in various periods from one hr. to as long as 24 hrs., and set free again, with the leaf fully re-expanded, in from one or two, to seven or even ten days, according to the nature of the object.  On a leaf which had naturally caught two flies, and therefore had already closed and reopened either once or more probably twice, I put a fresh fly:  in 7 hrs. it was moderately, and in 21 hrs. thoroughly well, clasped, with the edges of the leaf inflected.  In two days and a half the leaf had nearly re-expanded; as the exciting object was an insect, this unusually short period of inflection was, no doubt, due to the leaf having recently been in action.  Allowing this same leaf to rest for only a single day, I put on another fly, and it again closed, but now very slowly; nevertheless, in less than two days it succeeded in thoroughly clasping the fly.

When a small object is placed on the glands of the disc, on one side of a leaf, as near as possible to its circumference, the tentacles on this side are first affected, those on the opposite side much later, or, as often occurred, not at all.  This was repeatedly proved by trials with bits of meat; but I will here give only the case of a minute fly, naturally caught and still alive, which I found adhering by its delicate feet to the glands on the extreme left side of the central disc.  The marginal tentacles on this side closed inwards and killed the fly, and after a time the edge of the leaf on this side also became inflected, and thus remained for several days, whilst neither the tentacles nor the edge on the opposite side were in the least affected.

If young and active leaves are selected, inorganic particles not larger than the head of a small pin, placed on the central glands, sometimes cause the [page 22] outer tentacles to bend inwards.  But this follows much more surely and quickly, if the object contains nitrogenous matter which can be dissolved by the secretion.  On one occasion I observed the following unusual circumstance.  Small bits of raw meat (which acts more energetically than any other substance), of paper, dried moss, and of the quill of a pen were placed on several leaves, and they were all embraced equally well in about 2 hrs.  On other occasions the above-named substances, or more commonly particles of glass, coal-cinder (taken from

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Insectivorous Plants from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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