Insectivorous Plants eBook

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

This plant may be called a miniature aquatic Dionaea.  Stein discovered in 1873 that the bilobed leaves, which are generally found closed in Europe, open under a sufficiently high temperature, and, when touched, suddenly close.* They re-expand in from 24 to 36 hours, but only, as it appears, when inorganic objects are enclosed.  The leaves sometimes contain bubbles of air, and were formerly supposed to be bladders; hence the specific name of vesiculosa.  Stein observed that water-insects were sometimes caught, and Prof.  Cohn has recently found within the leaves of naturally growing plants many kinds of crustaceans and larvae.  Plants which had been kept in filtered water were placed by him in a vessel con-

* Since his original publication, Stein has found out that the irritability of the leaves was observed by De Sassus, as recorded in ‘Bull.  Bot.  Soc. de France,’ in 1861.  Delpino states in a paper published in 1871 (’Nuovo Giornale Bot.  Ital.’ vol. iii. p. 174) that “una quantit di chioccioline e di altri animalcoli acquatici” are caught and suffocated by the leaves.  I presume that chioccioline are fresh-water molluscs.  It would be interesting to know whether their shells are at all corroded by the acid of the digestive secretion.

  I am greatly indebted to this distinguished naturalist for having
  sent me a copy of his memoir on Aldrovanda, before its publication in
his ‘Beitrge zur Biologie der Pflanzen,’ drittes Heft, 1875, page 71. [page 322]

taining numerous crustaceans of the genus Cypris, and next morning many were found imprisoned and alive, still swimming about within the closed leaves, but doomed to certain death.

Directly after reading Prof.  Cohn’s memoir, I received through the kindness of Dr. Hooker living plants from Germany.  As I can add nothing to Prof.  Cohn’s excellent description, I will give only two illustrations, one of a whorl of leaves copied from his work, and the other of a leaf pressed flat open, drawn by my son Francis.  I will, however, append a few remarks on the differences between this plant and Dionaea.

Aldrovanda is destitute of roots and floats freely in the water.  The leaves are arranged in whorls round the stem.  Their broad petioles terminate in from four to six rigid projections,* each tipped with a stiff, short bristle.  The bilobed leaf, with the midrib likewise tipped with a bristle, stands in the midst of these projections, and is evidently defended by them.  The lobes are formed of very delicate tissue, so as to be translucent; they open, according to Cohn, about as much as the two valves of a living mussel-shell, therefore even less than the lobes of Dionaea; and this must make the capture of aquatic animals more easy.  The outside of the leaves and the petioles are covered with minute two-armed papillae, evidently answering to the eight-rayed papillae of Dionaea.

Each lobe rather exceeds a semi-circle in convexity, and consists of two very different concentric portions; the inner and lesser portion, or that next to the midrib,

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Insectivorous Plants from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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