Darwiniana - Essays and Reviews Pertaining to Darwinism
by Asa Gray
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Finally, Dr. Burdon-Sanderson's experiments, detailed at the last meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, show that the same electrical currents are developed upon the closing of the Dionaea-trap as in the contraction of a muscle.

If the Venus's Fly-trap stood alone, it would be doubly marvelous—first, on account of its carnivorous propensities, and then as constituting a real anomaly in organic Nature, to which nothing leads up. Before acquiescing in such a conclusion, the modern naturalist would scrutinize its relatives. Now, the nearest relatives of our vegetable wonder are the sundews.

While Dionaea is as local in habitation as it is singular in structure and habits, the Droseras or sundews are widely diffused over the world and numerous in species. The two whose captivating habits have attracted attention abound in bogs all around the northern hemisphere. That flies are caught by them is a matter of common observation; but this was thought to be purely accidental. They spread out from the root a circle of small leaves, the upper face of which especially is beset and the margin fringed with stout bristles (or what seem to be such, although the structure is more complex), tipped by a secreting gland, which produces, while in vigorous state, a globule of clear liquid like a drop of dew— whence the name, both Greek and English. One expects these seeming dew-drops to be dissipated by the morning sun; but they remain unaffected. A touch shows that the glistening drops are glutinous and extremely tenacious, as flies learn to their cost on alighting, perhaps to sip the tempting liquid, which acts first as a decoy and then like birdlime. A small fly is held so fast, and in its struggles comes in contact with so many of these glutinous globules, that it seldom escapes.

The result is much the same to the insect, whether captured in the trap of Dionaea or stuck fast to the limed bristles of Drosera. As there are various plants upon whose glandular hairs or glutinous surfaces small insects are habitually caught and perish, it might be pure coincidence that the most effectual arrangement of the kind happens to occur in the nearest relatives of Dionaea. Roth, a keen German botanist of the eighteenth century, was the first to detect, or at least to record, some evidence of intention in Drosera, and to compare its action with that of Dionaea, which, through Ellis's account, had shortly before been made known in Europe. He noticed the telling fact that not only the bristles which the unfortunate insect had come in contact with, but also the surrounding rows, before widely spreading, curved inward one by one, although they had not been touched, so as within a few hours to press their glutinous tips likewise against the body of the captive insect—thus doubling or quadrupling the bonds of the victim and (as we may now suspect) the surfaces through which some part of the animal substance may be imbibed. For Roth surmised that both these plants were, in their way, predaceous. He even observed that the disk of the Drosera-leaf itself often became concave and enveloped the prey. These facts, although mentioned now and then in some succeeding works, were generally forgotten, except that of the adhesion of small insects to the leaves of sundews, which must have been observed in every generation. Up to and even within a few years past, if any reference was made to these asserted movements (as by such eminent physiologists as Meyen and Treviranus) it was to discredit them. Not because they are difficult to verify, but because, being naturally thought improbable, it was easier to deny or ignore them. So completely had the knowledge of almost a century ago died out in later years that, when the subject was taken up anew in our days by Mr. Darwin, he had, as we remember, to advertise for it, by sending a "note and query" to the magazines, asking where any account of the fly-catching of the leaves of sundew was recorded.

When Mr. Darwin takes a matter of this sort in hand, he is not likely to leave it where he found it. He not only confirmed all Roth's observations as to the incurving of the bristles toward and upon an insect entangled on any part of the disk of the leaf, but also found that they responded similarly to a bit of muscle or other animal substance, while to any particles of inorganic matter they were nearly indifferent. To minute fragments of carbonate of ammonia, however, they were more responsive. As these remarkable results, attained (as we are able to attest) half a dozen years ago, remained unpublished (being portions of an investigation not yet completed), it would have been hardly proper to mention them, were it not that independent observers were beginning to bring out the same or similar facts. Mrs. Treat, of New Jersey, noticed the habitual infolding of the leaf in the longer-leaved species of sundew (American Journal of Science for November, 1871), as was then thought for the first time—Roth's and Withering's observations not having been looked up. In recording this, the next year, in a very little book, entitled "How Plants Behave," the opportunity was taken to mention, in the briefest way, the capital discovery of Mr. Darwin that the leaves of Drosera act differently when different objects are placed upon them, the bristles closing upon a particle of raw meat as upon a living insect, while to a particle of chalk or wood they are nearly inactive. The same facts were independently brought out by Mr. A. W. Bennett at the last year's meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and have been mentioned in the journals.

If to these statements, which we may certify, were added some far more extraordinary ones, communicated to the French Academy of Science in May last by M. Zeigler, a stranger story of discrimination on the part of sundew-bristles would be told. But it is safer to wait for the report of the committee to which these marvels were referred, and conclude this sufficiently "strange eventful history" with some details of experiments made last summer by Mrs. Treat, of New Jersey, and published in the December number of the American Naturalist. It is well to note that Mrs. Treat selects for publication the observations of one particular day in July, when the sundew-leaves were unusually active; for their moods vary with the weather, and also in other unaccountable ways, although in general the sultrier days are the most appetizing:

"At fifteen minutes past ten of the same day I placed bits of raw beef on some of the most vigorous leaves of Drosera longifolia. Ten minutes past twelve, two of the leaves had folded around the beef, hiding it from sight. Half-past eleven of the same day, I placed living flies on the leaves of D. longifolia. At 12 and 48 minutes one of the leaves had folded entirely around its victim, the other leaves had partially folded, and the flies had ceased to struggle. By 2 and 30 minutes four leaves had each folded around a fly. . . . I tried mineral substances—bits of dry chalk, magnesia, and pebbles. In twenty-four hours, neither the leaves nor their bristles had made any move like clasping these articles. I wet a piece of chalk in water, and in less than an hour the bristles were curving about it, but soon unfolded again, leaving the chalk free on the blade of the leaf. Parallel experiments made on D. rotundifolia, with bits of beef and of chalk, gave the same results as to the action of the bristles; while with a piece of raw apple, after eleven hours, "part of the bristles were clasping it, but not so closely as the beef," and in twenty-four hours "nearly all the bristles were curved toward it, but not many of the glands were touching it."

To make such observations is as easy as it is interesting. Throughout the summer one has only to transfer plants of Drosera from the bogs into pots or pans filled with wet moss—if need be, allowing them to become established in the somewhat changed conditions, or even to put out fresh leaves—and to watch their action or expedite it by placing small flies upon the disk of the leaves. The more common round-leaved sundew acts as well as the other by its bristles, and the leaf itself is sometimes almost equally prehensile, although in a different way, infolding the whole border instead of the summit only. Very curious, and even somewhat painful, is the sight when a fly, alighting upon the central dew-tipped bristles, is held as fast as by a spider's web; while the efforts to escape not only entangle the insect more hopelessly as they exhaust its strength, but call into action the surrounding bristles, which, one by one, add to the number of the bonds, each by itself apparently feeble, but in their combination so effectual that the fly may be likened to the sleeping Gulliver made fast in the tiny but multitudinous toils of the Liliputians. Anybody who can believe that such an apparatus was not intended to capture flies might say the same of a spider's web.

Is the intention here to be thought any the less real because there are other species of Drosera which are not so perfectly adapted for fly-catching, owing to the form of their leaves and the partial or total want of cooperation of their scattered bristles? One such species, D. filiformis, the thread-leaved sundew, is not uncommon in this country, both north and south of the district that Dionaea locally inhabits. Its leaves are long and thread-shaped, beset throughout with glutinous gland-tipped bristles, but wholly destitute of a blade. Flies, even large ones, and even moths and butterflies, as Mrs. Treat and Mr. Canby affirm (in the American Naturalist), get stuck fast to these bristles, whence they seldom escape. Accidental as such captures are, even these thread-shaped leaves respond more or less to the contact, somewhat in the manner of their brethren. In Mr. Canby's recent and simple experiment, made at Mr. Darwin's suggestion, when a small fly alights upon a leaf a little below its slender apex, or when a bit of crushed fly is there affixed, within a few hours the tip of the leaf bends at the point of contact, and curls over or around the body in question; and Mrs. Treat even found that when living flies were pinned at half an inch in distance from the leaves, these in forty minutes had bent their tips perceptibly toward the flies, and in less than two hours reached them! If this be confirmed—and such a statement needs ample confirmation—then it may be suspected that these slender leaves not only incurve after prolonged contact, just as do the leaf-stalks of many climbers, but also make free and independent circular sweeps, in the manner of twining stems and of many tendrils.

Correlated movements like these indicate purpose. When performed by climbing plants, the object and the advantage are obvious. That the apparatus and the actions of Dionaea and Drosera are purposeless and without advantage to the plants themselves, many have been believed in former days, when it was likewise conceived that abortive and functionless organs were specially created "for the sake of symmetry" and to display a plan; but this is not according to the genius of modern science.

In the cases of insecticide next to be considered, such evidence of intent is wanting, but other and circumstantial evidence may be had, sufficient to warrant convictions. Sarracenias have hollow leaves in the form of pitchers or trumpet-shaped tubes, containing water, in which flies and other insects are habitually drowned. They are all natives of the eastern side of North America, growing in bogs or low ground, so that they cannot be supposed to need the water as such. Indeed, they secrete a part if not all of it. The commonest species, and the only one at the North, which ranges from Newfoundland to Florida, has a broad-mouthed pitcher with an upright lid, into which rain must needs fall more or less. The yellow Sarracenia, with long tubular leaves, called "trumpets in the Southern States, has an arching or partly upright lid, raised well above the orifice, so that some water may rain in; but a portion is certainly secreted there, and may be seen bedewing the sides and collected at the bottom before the mouth opens. In other species, the orifice is so completely overarched as essentially to prevent the access of water from without. In these tubes, mainly in the water, flies and other insects accumulate, perish, and decompose. Flies thrown into the open-mouthed tube of the yellow Sarracenia, even when free from water, are unable to get out—one hardly sees why, except that they cannot fly directly upward; and microscopic chevaux-de-frise of fine, sharp-pointed bristles which line most of the interior, pointing strictly downward, may be a more effectual obstacle to crawling up the sides than one would think possible. On the inside of the lid or hood of the purple Northern species, the bristles are much stronger; but an insect might escape by the front without encountering these. In this species, the pitchers, however, are so well supplied with water that the insects which somehow are most abundantly attracted thither are effectually drowned, and the contents all summer long are in the condition of a rich liquid manure.

That the tubes or pitchers of the Southern species are equally attractive and fatal to flies is well known. Indeed, they are said to be taken into houses and used as fly-traps. There is no perceptible odor to draw insects, except what arises from the decomposition of macerated victims; nor is any kind of lure to be detected at the mouth of the pitcher of the common purple-flowered species. Some incredulity was therefore natural when it was stated by a Carolinian correspondent (Mr. B.F. Grady) that in the long-leaved, yellow-flowered species the lid just above the mouth of the tubular pitcher habitually secretes drops of a sweet and viscid liquid, which attracts flies and apparently intoxicates them, since those that sip it soon become unsteady in gait and mostly fall irretrievably into the well beneath. But upon cultivating plants of this species, obtained for the purpose, the existence of this lure was abundantly verified; and, although we cannot vouch for its inebriating quality, we can no longer regard it as unlikely.

No sooner was it thus ascertained that at least one species of Sarracenia allures flies to their ruin than it began to appear that—just as in the case of Drosera—most of this was a mere revival of obsolete knowledge. The "insect-destroying process" was known and well described sixty years ago, the part played by the sweet exudation indicated, and even the intoxication perhaps hinted at, although evidently little thought of in those ante-temperance days. Dr. James Macbride, of South Carolina—the early associate of Elliott in his "Botany of South Carolina and Georgia," and to whose death, at the age of thirty-three, cutting short a life of remarkable promise, the latter touchingly alludes in the preface to his second volume—sent to Sir James Edward Smith an account of his observations upon this subject, made in 1810 and the following years. This was read to the Linnaean Society in 1815, and published in the twelfth volume of its "Transactions." From this forgotten paper (to which attention has lately been recalled) we cull the following extracts, premising that the observations mostly relate to a third species, Sarracenia adunca, alias variolaris, which is said to be the most efficient fly-catcher of the kind:

"If, in the months of May, June, or July, when the leaves of those plants perform their extraordinary functions in the greatest perfection, some of them be removed to a house and fixed in an erect position, it will soon be perceived that flies are attracted by them. These insects immediately approach the fauces of the leaves, and, leaning over their edges, appear to sip with eagerness something from their internal surfaces. In this position they linger; but at length, allured as it would seem by the pleasure of taste, they enter the tubes. The fly which has thus changed its situation will be seen to stand unsteadily; it totters for a few seconds, slips, and falls to the bottom of the tube, where it is either drowned or attempts in vain to ascend against the points of the hairs. The fly seldom takes wing in its fall and escapes. . . . in a house much infested with flies, this entrapment goes on so rapidly that a tube is filled in a few hours, and it becomes necessary to add water, the natural quantity being insufficient to drown the imprisoned insects. The leaves of S. adunca and rubra might well be employed as fly-catchers; indeed, I am credibly informed they are in some neighborhoods. The leaves of the S. flava [the species to which our foregoing remarks mainly relate], although they are very capacious, and often grow to the height of three feet or more, are never found to contain so many insects as those of the species above mentioned.

"The cause which attracts flies is evidently a sweet, viscid substance resembling honey, secreted by or exuding from the internal surface of the tube . . . From the margin, where it commences, it does not extend lower than one-fourth of an inch.

"The falling of the insect as soon as it enters the tube is wholly attributable to the downward or inverted position of the hairs of the internal surface of the leaf. At the bottom of a tube split open, the hairs are plainly discernible pointing downward; as the eye ranges upward, they gradually become shorter and attenuated, till at or just below the surface covered by the bait they are no longer perceptible to the naked eye nor to the most delicate touch. It is here that the fly cannot take a hold sufficiently strong to support itself, but falls. The in. ability of insects to crawl up against the points of the hairs I have often tested in the most satisfactory manner."

From the last paragraph it may be inferred that Dr. Macbride did not suspect any inebriating property in the nectar, and in a closing note there is a conjecture of an impalpable loose powder in S. flava, at the place where the fly stands so unsteadily, and from which it is supposed to slide. We incline to take Mr. Grady's view of the case.

The complete oblivion into which this paper and the whole subject had fallen is the more remarkable when it is seen that both are briefly but explicitly referred to in Elliott's book, with which botanists are familiar.

It is not so wonderful that the far earlier allusion to these facts by the younger Bartram should have been overlooked or disregarded. With the genuine love of Nature and fondness for exploration, 'William Bartram did not inherit the simplicity of his father, the earliest native botanist of this country. Fine writing was his foible; and the preface to his well-known "Travels" (published at Philadelphia in 1791) is its full-blown illustration, sometimes perhaps deserving the epithet which he applies to the palms of Florida—that of pomposity. In this preface he declares that "all the Sarracenias are insect-catchers, and so is the Drosera rotundifolia. Whether the insects caught in their leaves, and which dissolve and mix with the fluid, serve for aliment or support to these kind of plants is doubtful," he thinks, but he should be credited with the suggestion. In one sentence he speaks of the quantities of insects which, "being invited down to sip the mellifluous exuvia from the interior surface of the tube, where they inevitably perish," being prevented from returning by the stiff hairs all pointing downward. This, if it refers to the sweet secretion, would place it below, and not, as it is, above the bristly surface, while the liquid below, charged with decomposing insects, is declared in an earlier sentence to be "cool and animating, limpid as the morning dew." Bartram was evidently writing from memory; and it is very doubtful if he ever distinctly recognized the sweet exudation which entices insects.

Why should these plants take to organic food more than others? If we cannot answer the question, we may make a probable step toward it. For plants that are not parasitic, these, especially the sundews, have much less than the ordinary amount of chlorophyll—that is, of the universal leaf-green upon which the formation of organic matter out of inorganic materials depends. These take it instead of making it, to a certain extent.

What is the bearing of these remarkable adaptations and operations upon doctrines of evolution? There seems here to be a field on which the specific creationist, the evolutionist with design, and the necessary evolutionist, may fight out an interesting, if not decisive, "triangular duel."




(The Nation, January 6 and 13, 1876)

"Minerals grow; vegetables grow and live; animals grow, live, and feel;" this is the well-worn, not to say out-worn, diagnosis of the three kingdoms by Linnaeus. It must be said of it that the agreement indicated in the first couplet is unreal, and that the distinction declared in the second is evanescent. Crystals do not grow at all in the sense that plants and animals grow. On the other hand, if a response to external impressions by special movements is evidence of feeling, vegetables share this endowment with animals; while, if conscious feeling is meant, this can be affirmed only of the higher animals. What appears to remain true is, that the difference is one of successive addition. That the increment in the organic world is of many steps; that in the long series no absolute lines separate, or have always separated, organisms which barely respond to impressions from those which more actively and variously respond, and even from those that consciously so respond—this, as we all know, is what the author of the works before us has undertaken to demonstrate. Without reference here either to that part of the series with which man is connected, and in some sense or other forms a part of, or to that lower limbo where the two organic kingdoms apparently merge—or whence, in evolutionary phrase, they have emerged—Mr. Darwin, in the present volumes, directs our attention to the behavior of the highest plants alone. He shows that some (and he might add that all) of them execute movements for their own advantage, and that some capture and digest living prey. When plants are seen to move and to devour, what faculties are left that are distinctively animal?

As to insectivorous or otherwise carnivorous plants, we have so recently here discussed this subject—before it attained to all this new popularity—that a brief account of Mr. Darwin's investigation may suffice.[XI-2] It is full of interest as a physiological research, and is a model of its kind, as well for the simplicity and directness of the means employed as for the clearness with which the results are brought out—results which any one may verify now that the way to them is pointed out, and which, surprising as they are, lose half their wonder in the ease and sureness with which they seem to have been reached.

Rather more than half the volume is devoted to one subject, the round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia), a rather common plant in the northern temperate zone. That flies stick fast to its leaves, being limed by the tenacious seeming dew-drops which stud its upper face and margins, had long been noticed in Europe and in this country. We have heard hunters and explorers in our Northern woods refer with satisfaction to the fate which in this way often befalls one of their plagues, the black fly of early summer. And it was known to some observant botanists in the last century, although forgotten or discredited in this, that an insect caught on the viscid glands it has happened to alight upon is soon fixed by many more—not merely in consequence of its struggles, but by the spontaneous incurvation of the stalks of surrounding and untouched glands; and even the body of the leaf had been observed to incurve or become cup-shaped so as partly to involve the captive insect.

Mr. Darwin's peculiar investigations not only confirm all this, but add greater wonders. They relate to the sensitiveness of these tentacles, as he prefers to call them, and the mode in which it is manifested; their power of absorption; their astonishing discernment of the presence of animal or other soluble azotized matter, even in quantities so minute as to rival the spectroscope—that most exquisite instrument of modern research—in delicacy; and, finally, they establish the fact of a true digestion, in all essential respects similar to that of the stomach of animals.

First as to sensitiveness and movement. Sensitiveness is manifested by movement or change of form in response to an external impression. The sensitiveness in the sundew is all in the gland which surmounts the tentacle. To incite movement or other action, it is necessary that the gland itself should be reached. Anything laid on the surface of the viscid drop, the spherule of clear, glairy liquid which it secretes, produces no effect unless it sinks through to the gland; or unless the substance is soluble and reaches it in solution, which, in the case of certain substances, has the same effect. But the glands themselves do not move, nor does any neighboring portion of the tentacle. The outer and longer tentacles bend inward (toward the centre of the leaf) promptly, when the gland is irritated or stimulated, sweeping through an arc of 1800 or less, or more—the quickness and the extent of the inflection depending, in equally vigorous leaves, upon the amount of irritation or stimulation, and also upon its kind. A tentacle with a particle of raw meat on its gland sometimes visibly begins to bend in ten seconds, becomes strongly incurved in five minutes, and its tip reaches the centre of the leaf in half an hour; but this is a case of extreme rapidity. A particle of cinder, chalk, or sand, will also incite the bending, if actually brought in contact with the gland, not merely resting on the drop; but the inflection is then much less pronounced and more transient. Even a bit of thin human hair, only 1/8000 of an inch in length, weighing only the 1/78740 of a grain, and largely supported by the viscid secretion, suffices to induce movement; but, on the other hand, one or two momentary, although rude, touches with a hard object produce no effect, although a repeated touch or the slightest pressure, such as that of a gnat's foot, prolonged for a short time, causes bending. The seat of the movement is wholly or nearly confined to a portion of the lower part of the tentacle, above the base, where local irritation produces not the slightest effect. The movement takes place only in response to some impression made upon its own gland at the distant extremity, or upon other glands far more remote. For if one of these members suffers irritation the others sympathize with it. Very noteworthy is the correlation between the central tentacles, upon which an insect is most likely to alight, and these external and larger ones, which, in proportion to their distance from the centre, take the larger share in the movement. The shorter central ones do not move at all when a bit of meat, or a crushed fly, or a particle of a salt of ammonia, or the like, is placed upon them; but they transmit their excitation across the leaf to the surrounding tentacles on all sides; and they, although absolutely untouched, as they successively receive the mysterious impulse, bend strongly inward, just as they do when their own glands are excited. Whenever a tentacle bends in obedience to an impulse from its own gland, the movement is always toward the centre of the leaf; and this also takes place, as we have seen, when an exciting object is lodged at the centre. But when the object is placed upon either half of the leaf, the impulse radiating thence causes all the surrounding untouched tentacles to bend with precision toward the point of excitement, even the central tentacles, which are motionless when themselves charged, now responding to the call. The inflection which follows mechanical irritation or the presence of any inorganic or insoluble body is transient; that which follows the application of organic matter lasts longer, more or less, according to its nature and the amount; but sooner or later the tentacles resume their former position, their glands glisten anew with fresh secretion, and they are ready to act again.

As to how the impulse is originated and propagated, and how the movements are made, comparatively simple as the structure is, we know as little as we do of the nature of nervous impulse and muscular motion. But two things Mr. Darwin has wellnigh made out, both of them by means and observations so simple and direct as to command our confidence, although they are contrary to the prevalent teaching. First, the transmission is through the ordinary cellular tissue, and not through what are called the fibrous or vascular bundles. Second, the movement is a vital one, and is effected by contraction on the side toward which the bending takes place, rather than by turgescent tension of the opposite side. The tentacle is pulled over rather than pushed over. So far all accords with muscular action.

The operation of this fly-catching apparatus, in any case, is plain. If the insect alights upon the disk of the leaf, the viscid secretion holds it fast—at least, an ordinary fly is unable to escape—its struggles only increase the number of glands involved and the amount of excitement; this is telegraphed to the surrounding and successively longer tentacles, which bent over in succession, so that within ten to thirty hours, if the leaf is active and the fly large enough, every one of the glands (on the average, nearly two hundred in number) will be found applied to the body of the insect. If the insect is small, and the lodgment toward one side, only the neighboring tentacles may take part in the capture. If two or three of the strong marginal tentacles are first encountered, their prompt inflection carries the intruder to the centre, and presses it down upon the glands which thickly pave the floor; these notify all the surrounding tentacles of the capture, that they may share the spoil, and the fate of that victim is even as of the first. A bit of meat or a crushed insect is treated in the same way.

This language implies that the animal matter is in some way or other discerned by the tentacles, and is appropriated. Formerly there was only a presumption of this, on the general ground that such an organization could hardly be purposeless. Yet, while such expressions were natural, if not unavoidable, they generally were used by those familiar with the facts in a half-serious, half-metaphorical sense. Thanks to Mr. Darwin's investigations, they may now be used in simplicity and seriousness.

That the glands secrete the glairy liquid of the drop is evident, not only from its nature, but from its persistence through a whole day's exposure to a summer sun, as also from its renewal after it has been removed, dried up, or absorbed. That they absorb as well as secrete, and that the whole tentacle may be profoundly affected thereby, are proved by the different effects, in kind and degree, which follow the application of different substances. Drops of rain-water, like single momentary touches of a solid body, produce no effect, as indeed they could be of no advantage; but a little carbonate of ammonia in the water, or an infusion of meat, not only causes inflection, but promptly manifests its action upon the contents of the cells of which the tentacle is constructed. These cells are sufficiently transparent to be viewed under the microscope without dissection or other interference; and the change which takes place in the fluid contents of these cells, when the gland above has been acted upon, is often visible through a weak lens, or sometimes even by the naked eye, although higher powers are required to discern what actually takes place. This change, which Mr. Darwin discovered, and turns to much account in his researches, he terms "aggregation of the protoplasm." When untouched and quiescent, the contents appear as an homogeneous purple fluid. When the gland is acted upon, minute purple particles appear, suspended in the now colorless or almost colorless fluid; and this change appears first in the cells next the gland, and then in those next beneath, traveling down the whole length of the tentacle. When the action is slight, this appearance does not last long; the particles of "aggregated protoplasm redissolved, the process of redissolution traveling upward from the base of the tentacle to the gland in a reverse direction to that of the aggregation. Whenever the action is more prolonged or intense, as when a bit of meat or crushed fly, or a fitting solution, is left upon the gland, the aggregation proceeds further, so that the whole protoplasm of each cell condenses into one or two masses, or into a single mass which will often separate into two, which afterward reunite; indeed, they incessantly change their forms and positions, being never at rest, although their movements are rather slow. In appearance and movements they are very like amoebae and the white corpuscles of the blood. Their motion, along with the streaming movement of rotation in the layer of white granular protoplasm that flows along the walls of the cell, under the high powers of the microscope "presents a wonderful scene of vital activity." This continues while the tentacle is inflected or the gland fed by animal matter, but vanishes by dissolution when the work is over and the tentacle straightens. That absorption takes place, and matter is conveyed from cell to cell, is well made out, especially by the experiments with carbonate of ammonia. Nevertheless, this aggregation is not dependent upon absorption, for it equally occurs from mechanical irritation of the gland, and always accompanies inflection, however caused, though it may take place without it. This is also apparent from the astonishingly minute quantity of certain substances which suffices to produce sensible inflection and aggregation—such, for instance, as the 1/20000000 or even the 1/30000000 of a grain of phosphate or nitrate of ammonia!

By varied experiments it was found that the nitrate of ammonia was more powerful than the carbonate, and the phosphate more powerful than the nitrate, this result being intelligible from the difference in the amount of nitrogen in the first two salts, and from the presence of phosphorus in the third. There is nothing surprising in the absorption of such extremely dilute solutions by a gland. As our author remarks: "All physiologists admit that the roots of plants absorb the salts of ammonia brought to them by the rain; and fourteen gallons of rain-water contain a grain of ammonia; therefore, only a little more than twice as much as in the weakest solution employed by me. The fact which appears truly wonderful is that the 1/20000000 of a grain of the phosphate of ammonia, including less than 1/30000000 of efficient matter (if the water of crystallization is deducted), when absorbed by a gland, should induce some change in it which leads to a motor impulse being transmitted down the whole length of the tentacle, causing its basal part to bend, often through an angle of 180 degrees." But odoriferous particles which act upon the nerves of animals must be infinitely smaller, and by these a dog a quarter of a mile to the leeward of a deer perceives his presence by some change in the olfactory nerves transmitted through them to the brain.

When Mr. Darwin obtained these results, fourteen years ago, he could claim for Drosera a power and delicacy in the detection of minute quantities of a substance far beyond the resources of the most skillful chemist; but in a foot-note he admits that "now the spectroscope has altogether beaten Drosera; for, according to Bunsen and Kirchhoff, probably less than the 1/200000000 of a grain of sodium can be thus detected."

Finally, that this highly-sensitive and active living organism absorbs, will not be doubted when it is proved to digest, that is, to dissolve otherwise insoluble animal matter by the aid of special secretions. That it does this is now past doubting. In the first place, when the glands are excited they pour forth an increased amount of the ropy secretion. This occurs directly when a bit of meat is laid upon the central glands; and the influence which they transmit to the long-stalked marginal glands causes them, while incurving their tentacles, to secrete more copiously long before they have themselves touched anything. The primary fluid, secreted without excitation, does not of itself digest. But the secretion under excitement changes in Nature and becomes acid. So, according to Schiff, mechanical irritation excites the glands of the stomach to secrete an acid. In both this acid appears to be necessary to, but of itself insufficient for, digestion. The requisite solvent, a kind of ferment called pepsin, which acts only in the presence of the acid, is poured forth by the glands of the stomach only after they have absorbed certain soluble nutritive substances of the food; then this pepsin promptly dissolves muscle, fibrine, coagulated albumen, cartilage, and the like. Similarly it appears that Drosera-glands, after irritation by particles of glass, did not act upon little cubes of albumen. But when moistened with saliva, or replaced by bits of roast-meat or gelatine, or even cartilage, which supply some soluble peptone-matter to initiate the process, these substances are promptly acted upon, and dissolved or digested; whence it is inferred that the analogy with the stomach holds good throughout, and that a ferment similar to pepsin is poured out under the stimulus of some soluble animal matter. But the direct evidence of this is furnished only by the related carnivorous plant, Dionaea, from which the secretions, poured out when digestion is about to begin, may be collected in quantity sufficient for chemical examination. In short, the experiments show "that there is a remarkable accordance in the power of digestion between the gastric juice of animals, with its pepsin and hydrochloric acid, and the secretion of Drosera, with its ferment and acid belonging to the acetic series. We can, therefore, hardly doubt that the ferment in both cases is closely similar, if not identically the same. That a plant and an animal should pour forth the same, or nearly the same, complex secretion, adapted for the same purpose of digestion, is a new and wonderful fact in physiology."

There are one or two other species of sundew—one of them almost as common in Europe and North America as the ordinary round-leaved species—which act in the same way, except that, having their leaves longer in proportion to their breadth, their sides never curl inward, but they are much disposed to aid the action of their tentacles by incurving the tip of the leaf, as if to grasp the morsel. There are many others, with variously less efficient and less advantageously arranged insectivorous apparatus, which, in the language of the new science, may be either on the way to acquire something better, or of losing what they may have had, while now adapting themselves to a proper vegetable life. There is one member of the family (Drosophyllum Lusitanicum), an almost shrubby plant, which grows on dry and sunny hills in Portugal and Morocco—which the villagers call "the flycatcher," and hang up in their cottages for the purpose—the glandular tentacles of which have wholly lost their powers of movement, if they ever had any, but which still secrete, digest, and absorb, being roused to great activity by the contact of any animal matter. A friend of ours once remarked that it was fearful to contemplate the amount of soul that could be called forth in a dog by the sight of a piece of meat. Equally wonderful is the avidity for animal food manifested by these vegetable tentacles, that can "only stand and wait" for it.

Only a brief chapter is devoted to Dionaea of North Carolina, the Venus's fly-trap, albeit, "from the rapidity and force of its movements, one of the most wonderful in the world." It is of the same family as the sundew; but the action is transferred from tentacles on the leaf to the body of the leaf itself, which is transformed into a spring-trap, closing with a sudden movement over the alighted insect. No secretion is provided beforehand either for allurement or detention; but after the captive is secured, microscopic glands within the surface of the leaf pour out an abundant gastric juice to digest it. Mrs. Glass's classical directions in the cook-book, "first catch your hare," are implicitly followed.

Avoiding here all repetition or recapitulation of our former narrative, suffice it now to mention two interesting recent additions to our knowledge, for which we are indebted to Mr. Darwin. One is a research, the other an inspiration. It is mainly his investigations which have shown that the glairy liquid, which is poured upon and macerates the captured insect, accomplishes a true digestion; that, like the gastric juice of animals, it contains both a free acid and pepsin or its analogue, these two together dissolving albumen, meat, and the like. The other point relates to the significance of a peculiarity in the process of capture. When the trap suddenly incloses an insect which has betrayed its presence by touching one of the internal sensitive bristles, the closure is at first incomplete. For the sides approach in an arching way, surrounding a considerable cavity, and the marginal spine-like bristles merely intercross their tips, leaving intervening spaces through which one may look into the cavity beneath. A good idea may be had of it by bringing the two palms near together to represent the sides of the trap, and loosely interlocking the fingers to represent the marginal bristles or bars. After remaining some time in this position the closure is made complete by the margins coming into full contact, and the sides finally flattening down so as to press firmly upon the insect within; the secretion excited by contact is now poured out, and digestion begins. Why these two stages? Why should time be lost by this preliminary and incomplete closing? The query probably was never distinctly raised before, no one noticing anything here that needed explanation. Darwinian teleology, however, raises questions like this, and Mr. Darwin not only propounded the riddle but solved it. The object of the partial closing is to permit small insects to escape through the meshes, detaining only those plump enough to be worth the trouble of digesting. For naturally only one insect is caught at a time, and digestion is a slow business with Dionaeas, as with anacondas, requiring ordinarily a fortnight. It is not worth while to undertake it with a gnat when larger game may be had. To test this happy conjecture, Mr. Canby was asked, on visiting the Dionaeas in their native habitat, to collect early in the season a good series of leaves in the act of digesting naturally-caught insects. Upon opening them it was found that ten out of fourteen were engaged upon relatively large prey, and of the remaining four three had insects as large as ants, and one a rather small fly.

"There be land-rats and water-rats" in this carnivorous sun-dew family. Aldrovanda, of the warmer parts of Europe and of India, is an aquatic plant, with bladdery leaves, which were supposed to be useful in rendering the herbage buoyant in water. But it has recently been found that the bladder is composed of two lobes, like the trap of its relative Dionaea, or the valves of a mussel-shell; that these open when the plant is in an active state, are provided with some sensitive bristles within, and when these are touched close with a quick movement. These water-traps are manifestly adapted for catching living creatures; and the few incomplete investigations that have already been made render it highly probably that they appropriate their prey for nourishment; whether by digestion or by mere absorption of decomposing animal matter, is uncertain. It is certainly most remarkable that this family of plants, wherever met with, and under the most diverse conditions and modes of life, should always in some way or other be predaceous and carnivorous.

If it be not only surprising but somewhat confounding to our classifications that a whole group of plants should subsist partly by digesting animal matter and partly in the normal way of decomposing carbonic acid and producing the basis of animal matter, we have, as Mr. Darwin remarks, a counterpart anomaly in the animal kingdom. While some plants have stomachs, some animals have roots. "The rhizocephalous crustaceans do not feed like other animals by their mouths, for they are destitute of an alimentary canal, but they live by absorbing through root-like processes the juices of the animals on which they are parasitic."

To a naturalist of our day, imbued with those ideas of the solidarity of organic Nature which such facts as those we have been considering suggest, the greatest anomaly of all would be that they are really anomalous or unique. Reasonably supposing, therefore, that the sundew did not stand alone, Mr. Darwin turned his attention to other groups of plants; and, first, to the bladderworts, which have no near kinship with the sundews, but, like the aquatic representative of that family, are provided with bladdery sacs, under water. In the common species of Utricularia or bladderwort, these little sacs, hanging from submerged leaves or branches, have their orifice closed by a lid which opens inwardly—a veritable trapdoor. It had been noticed in England and France that they contained minute crustacean animals. Early in the summer of 1874, Mr. Darwin ascertained the mechanism for their capture and the great success with which it is used. But before his account was written out, Prof. Cohn published an excellent paper on the subject in Germany; and Mrs. Treat, of Vineland, New Jersey, a still earlier one in this country—in the New York Tribune in the autumn of 1874. Of the latter, Mr. Darwin remarks that she "has been more successful than any other observer in witnessing the actual entrance of these minute creatures." They never come out, but soon perish in their prison, which receives a continued succession of victims, but little, if any, fresh air to the contained water. The action of the trap is purely mechanical, without evident irritability in the opening or shutting. There is no evidence nor much likelihood of proper digestion; indeed, Mr. Darwin found evidence to the contrary. But the more or less decomposed and dissolved animal matter is doubtless absorbed into the plant; for the whole interior of the sac is lined with peculiar, elongated and four-armed very thin-walled processes, which contain active protoplasm, and which were proved by experiment to "have the power of absorbing matter from weak solutions of certain salts of ammonia and urea, and from a putrid infusion of raw meat."

Although the bladderworts "prey on garbage," their terrestrial relatives "live cleanly," as nobler plants should do, and have a good and true digestion. Pinguicula, or butterwort, is the representative of this family upon land. It gets both its Latin and its English name from the fatty or greasy appearance of the upper face of its broad leaves; and this appearance is due to a dense coat or pile of short-stalked glands, which secrete a colorless and extremely viscid liquid. By this small flies, or whatever may alight or fall upon the leaf, are held fast. These waifs might be useless or even injurious to the plant. Probably Mr. Darwin was the first to ask whether they might be of advantage. He certainly was the first to show that they probably are so. The evidence from experiment, shortly summed up, is, that insects alive or dead, and also other nitrogenous bodies, excite these glands to increased secretion; the secretion then becomes acid, and acquires the power of dissolving solid animal substances—that is, the power of digestion in the manner of Drosera and Dionaea. And the stalks of their glands under the microscope give the same ocular evidence of absorption. The leaves of the butterwort are apt to have their margins folded inward, like a rim or hem. Taking young and vigorous leaves to which hardly anything had yet adhered, and of which the margins were still flat, Mr. Darwin set within one margin a row of small flies. Fifteen hours afterward this edge was neatly turned inward, partly covering the row of flies, and the surrounding glands were secreting copiously. The other edge remained flat and unaltered. Then he stuck a fly to the middle of the leaf just below its tip, and soon both margins infolded, so as to clasp the object. Many other and varied experiments yielded similar results. Even pollen, which would not rarely be lodged upon these leaves, as it falls from surrounding wind-fertilized plants, also small seeds, excited the same action, and showed signs of being acted upon. "We may therefore conclude," with Mr. Darwin, "that Pinguicula vulgaris, with its small roots, is not only supported to a large extent by the extraordinary number of insects which it habitually captures, but likewise draws some nourishment from the pollen, leaves, and seeds, of other plants which often adhere to its leaves. It is, therefore, partly a vegetable as well as an animal feeder."

What is now to be thought of the ordinary glandular hairs which render the surface of many and the most various plants extremely viscid? Their number is legion. The Chinese primrose of common garden and house culture is no extraordinary instance; but Mr. Francis Darwin, counting those on a small space measured by the micrometer, estimated them at 65,371 to the square inch of foliage, taking in both surfaces of the leaf, or two or three millions on a moderate-sized specimen of this small herb. Glands of this sort were loosely regarded as organs for excretion, without much consideration of the question whether, in vegetable life, there could be any need to excrete, or any advantage gained by throwing off such products; and, while the popular name of catch-fly, given to several common species of Silene, indicates long familiarity with the fact, probably no one ever imagined that the swarms of small insects which perish upon these sticky surfaces were ever turned to account by the plant. In many such cases, no doubt they perish as uselessly as when attracted into the flame of a candle. In the tobacco-plant, for instance, Mr. Darwin could find no evidence that the glandular hairs absorb animal matter. But Darwinian philosophy expects all gradations between casualty and complete adaptation. It is most probable that any thin-walled vegetable structure which secretes may also be capable of absorbing under favorable conditions. The myriads of exquisitely-constructed glands of the Chinese primrose are not likely to be functionless. Mr. Darwin ascertained by direct experiment that they promptly absorb carbonate of ammonia, both in watery solution and in vapor. So, since rain-water usually contains a small percentage of ammonia, a use for these glands becomes apparent—one completely congruous with that of absorbing any animal matter, or products of its decomposition, which may come in their way through the occasional entanglement of insects in their viscid secretion. In several saxifrages—not very distant relatives of Drosera—the viscid glands equally manifested the power of absorption.

To trace a gradation between a simply absorbing hair with a glutinous tip, through which the plant may perchance derive slight contingent advantage, and the tentacles of a sundew, with their exquisite and associated adaptations, does not much lessen the wonder nor explain the phenomena. After all, as Mr. Darwin modestly concludes, "we see how little has been made out in comparison with what remains unexplained and unknown." But all this must be allowed to be an important contribution to the doctrine of the gradual acquirement of uses and functions, and hardly to find conceivable explanation upon any other hypothesis.

There remains one more mode in which plants of the higher grade are known to prey upon animals; namely, by means of pitchers, urns, or tubes, in which insects and the like are drowned or confined, and either macerated or digested. To this Mr. Darwin barely alludes on the last page of the present volume. The main facts known respecting the American pitcher-plants have, as was natural, been ascertained in this country; and we gave an abstract, two years ago, of our then incipient knowledge. Much has been learned since, although all the observations have been of a desultory character. If space permitted, an instructive narrative might be drawn up, as well of the economy of the Sarracenias as of how we came to know what we do of it. But the very little we have room for will be strictly supplementary to our former article.

The pitchers of our familiar Northern Sarracenia, which is likewise Southern, are open-mouthed; and, although they certainly secrete some liquid when young, must derive most of the water they ordinarily contain from rain. How insects are attracted is unknown, but the water abounds with their drowned bodies and decomposing remains.

In the more southern S. flava, the long and trumpet-shaped pitchers evidently depend upon the liquid which they themselves secrete, although at maturity, when the hood becomes erect, rain may somewhat add to it. This species, as we know, allures insects by a peculiar sweet exudation within the orifice; they fall in and perish, though seldom by drowning, yet few are able to escape; and their decomposing remains accumulate in the narrow bottom of the vessel. Two other long-tubed species of the Southern States are similar in these respects. There is another, S. psittacina, the parrot-headed species, remarkable for the cowl-shaped hood so completely inflexed over the mouth of the small pitcher that no rain can possibly enter. Little is known, however, of the efficiency of this species as a fly-catcher; but its conformation has a morphological interest, leading up, as it does, to the Californian type of pitcher presently to be mentioned.

But the remaining species, S. variolaris, is the most wonderful of our pitcher-plants in its adaptations for the capture of insects. The inflated and mottled lid or hood overarches the ample orifice of the tubular pitcher sufficiently to ward off the rain, but not to obstruct the free access of flying insects. Flies, ants, and most insects, glide and fall from the treacherous smooth throat into the deep well below, and never escape. They are allured by a sweet secretion just within the orifice— which was discovered and described long ago, and the knowledge of it wellnigh forgotten until recently. And, finally, Dr. Mellichamp, of South Carolina, two years ago made the capital discovery that, during the height of the season, this lure extends from the orifice down nearly to the ground, a length of a foot or two, in the form of a honeyed line or narrow trail on the edge of the wing-like border which is conspicuous in all these species, although only in this one, so far as known, turned to such account. Here, one would say, is a special adaptation to ants and such terrestrial and creeping insects. Well, long before this sweet trail was known, it was remarked by the late Prof. Wyman and others that the pitchers of this species, in the savannahs of Georgia and Florida, contain far more ants than they do of all other insects put together.

Finally, all this is essentially repeated in the peculiar Californian pitcher-plant (Darlingtonia), a genus of the same natural family, which captures insects in great variety, enticing them by a sweetish secretion over the whole inside of the inflated hood and that of a curious forked appendage, resembling a fish-tail, which overhangs the orifice. This orifice is so concealed that it can be seen and approached only from below, as if—the casual observer might infer—to escape visitation. But dead insects of all kinds, and their decomposing remains, crowd the cavity and saturate the liquid therein contained, enticed, it is said, by a peculiar odor, as well as by the sweet lure which is at some stages so abundant as to drip from the tips of the overhanging appendage. The principal observations upon this pitcher-plant in its native habitat have been made by Mrs. Austin, and only some of the earlier ones have thus far been published by Mr. Canby. But we are assured that in this, as in the Sarracenia variolaris, the sweet exudation extends at the proper season from the orifice down the wing nearly to the ground, and that ants follow this honeyed pathway to their destruction. Also, that the watery liquid in the pitcher, which must be wholly a secretion, is much increased in quantity after the capture of insects.

It cannot now well be doubted that the animal matter is utilized by the plant in all these cases, although most probably only after maceration or decomposition. In some of them even digestion, or at least the absorption of undecomposed soluble animal juices, may be suspected; but there is no proof of it. But, if pitchers of the Sarracenia family are only macerating vessels, those of Nepenthes—the pitchers of the Indian Archipelago, familiar in conservatories—seem to be stomachs. The investigations of the President of the Royal Society, Dr. Hooker, although incomplete, wellnigh demonstrate that these not only allure insects by a sweet secretion at the rim and upon the lid of the cup, but also that their capture, or the presence of other partly soluble animal matter, produces an increase and an acidulation of the contained watery liquid, which thereupon becomes capable of acting in the manner of that of Drosera and Dionaea, dissolving flesh, albumen, and the like.

After all, there never was just ground for denying to vegetables the use of animal food. The fungi are by far the most numerous family of plants, and they all live upon organic matter, some upon dead and decomposing, some upon living, some upon both; and the number of those that feed upon living animals is large. Whether these carnivorous propensities of higher plants which so excite our wonder be regarded as survivals of ancestral habits, or as comparatively late acquirements, or even as special endowments, in any case what we have now learned of them goes to strengthen the conclusion that the whole organic world is akin.

The volume upon "The Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants" is a revised and enlarged edition of a memoir communicated to the Linnaean Society in 1865, and published in the ninth volume of its Journal. There was an extra impression, but, beyond the circle of naturalists, it can hardly have been much known at first-hand. Even now, when it is made a part of the general Darwinian literature, it is unlikely to be as widely read as the companion volume which we have been reviewing; although it is really a more readable book, and well worthy of far more extended notice at our hands than it can now receive. The reason is obvious. It seems as natural that plants should climb as it does unnatural that any should take animal food. Most people, knowing that some plants "twine with the sun," and others "against the sun," have an idea that the sun in some way causes the twining; indeed, the notion is still fixed in the popular mind that the same species twines in opposite directions north and south of the equator.

Readers of this fascinating treatise will learn, first of all, that the sun has no influence over such movements directly, and that its indirect influence is commonly adverse or disturbing, except the heat, which quickens vegetable as it does animal life. Also, that climbing is accomplished by powers and actions as unlike those generally predicated of the vegetable kingdom as any which have been brought to view in the preceding volume. Climbing plants "feel" as well as "grow and live;" and they also manifest an automatism which is perhaps more wonderful than a response by visible movement to an external irritation. Nor do plants grow up their supports, as is unthinkingly supposed; for, although only growing or newly-grown parts act in climbing, the climbing and the growth are entirely distinct. To this there is one exception—an instructive one, as showing how one action passes into another, and how the same result may be brought about in different ways—that of stems which climb by rootlets, such as of ivy and trumpet-creeper. Here the stem ascends by growth alone, taking upward direction, and is fixed by root-lets as it grows. There is no better way of climbing walls, precipices, and large tree-trunks.

But small stems and similar supports are best ascended by twining; and this calls out powers of another and higher order. The twining stem does not grow around its support, but winds around it, and it does this by a movement the nature of which is best observed in stems which have not yet reached their support, or have overtopped it and stretched out beyond it. Then it may be seen that the extending summit, reaching farther and farther as it grows, is making free circular sweeps, by night as well as by day, and irrespective of external circumstances, except that warmth accelerates the movement, and that the general tendency of young stems to bend toward the light may, in case of lateral illumination, accelerate one-half the circuit while it equally retards the other. The arrest of the revolution where the supporting body is struck, while the portion beyond continues its movement, brings about the twining. As to the proximate cause of this sweeping motion, a few simple experiments prove that it results from the bowing or bending of the free summit of the stem into a more or less horizontal position (this bending being successively to every point of the compass, through an action which circulates around the stem in the direction of the sweep), and of the consequent twining, i.e., "with the sun," or with the movement of the hands of a watch, in the hop, or in the opposite direction in pole-beans and most twiners. Twining plants, therefore, ascend trees or other stems by an action and a movement of their own, from which they derive advantage. To plants liable to be overshadowed by more robust companions, climbing is an economical method of obtaining a freer exposure to light and air with the smallest possible expenditure of material. But twiners have one disadvantage: to rise ten feet they must produce fifteen feet of stem or thereabouts, according to the diameter of the support, and the openness or closeness of the coil. A rootlet-climber saves much in this respect, but has a restricted range of action, and other disadvantages.

There are two other modes, which combine the utmost economy of material with freer range of action. There are, in the first place, leaf-climbers of various sorts, agreeing only in this, that the duty of laying hold is transferred to the leaves, so that the stem may rise in a direct line. Sometimes the blade or leaflets, or some of them, but more commonly their slender stalks, undertake the work, and the plant rises as a boy ascends a tree, grasping first with one hand or arm, then with the other. Indeed, the comparison, like the leaf-stalk, holds better than would be supposed; for the grasping of the latter is not the result of a blind groping in all directions by a continuous movement, but of a definite sensitiveness which acts only upon the occasion. Most leaves make no regular sweeps; but when the stalks of a leaf-climbing species come into prolonged contact with any fitting extraneous body, they slowly incurve and make a turn around it, and then commonly thicken and harden until they attain a strength which may equal that of the stem itself. Here we have the faculty of movement to a definite end, upon external irritation, of the same nature with that displayed by Dionaea and Drosera, although slower for the most part than even in the latter. But the movement of the hour-hand of the clock is not different in nature or cause from that of the second-hand.

Finally—distribution of office being, on the whole, most advantageous and economical, and this, in the vegetable kingdom, being led up to by degrees—we reach, through numerous gradations, the highest style of climbing plants in the tendril-climber. A tendril morphologically, is either a leaf or branch of stem, or a portion of one, specially organized for climbing. Some tendrils simply turn away from light, as do those of grape-vines, thus taking the direction in which some supporting object is likely to be encountered; most are indifferent to light; and many revolve in the manner of the summit of twining stems. As the stems which bear these highly-endowed tendrils in many cases themselves also revolve more or less, though they seldom twine, their reach is the more extensive; and to this endowment of automatic movement most tendrils add the other faculty, that of incurving and coiling upon prolonged touch, or even brief contact, in the highest degree. Some long tendrils, when in their best condition, revolve so rapidly that the sweeping movement may be plainly seen; indeed, we have seen a quarter-circuit in a Passiflora sicyoides accomplished in less than a minute, and the half-circuit in ten minutes; but the other half (for a reason alluded to in the next paragraph) takes a much longer time. Then, as to the coiling upon contact, in the case first noticed in this country,[XI-3] in the year 1858, which Mr. Darwin mentions as having led him into this investigation, the tendril of Sicyos was seen to coil within half a minute after a stroke with the hand, and to make a full turn or more within the next minute; furnishing ocular evidence that tendrils grasp and coil in virtue of sensitiveness to contact, and, one would suppose, negativing Sachs's recent hypothesis that all these movements are owing "to rapid growth on the side opposite to that which becomes concave"—a view to which Mr. Darwin objects, but not so strongly as he might. The tendril of this sort, on striking some fitting object, quickly curls round and firmly grasps it; then, after some hours, one side shortening or remaining short in proportion to the other, it coils into a spire, dragging the stem up to its support, and enabling the next tendril above to secure a readier hold.

In revolving tendrils perhaps the most wonderful adaptation is that by which they avoid attachment to, or winding themselves upon, the ascending summit of the stem that bears them. This they would inevitably do if they continued their sweep horizontally. But when in its course it nears the parent

stem the tendril moves slowly, as if to gather strength, then C.~ stiffens and rises into an erect position parallel with it, and C so passes by the dangerous point; after which it comes rapidly down to the horizontal position, in which it moves until it again approaches and again avoids the impending obstacle.

Climbing plants are distributed throughout almost all the natural orders. In some orders climbing is the rule, in most it is the exception, occurring only in certain genera. The tendency of stems to move in circuits—upon which climbing more commonly depends, and out of which it is conceived to have been educed—is manifested incipiently by many a plant which does not climb. Of those that do there are all degrees, from the feeblest to the most efficient, from those which have no special adaptation to those which have exquisitely-endowed special organs for climbing. The conclusion reached is, that the power "is inherent, though undeveloped, in almost every plant;" "that climbing plants have utilized and perfected a widely-distributed and incipient capacity, which, as far as we can see, is of no service to ordinary plants."

Inherent powers and incipient manifestations, useless to their possessors but useful to their successors—this, doubtless, is according to the order of Nature; but it seems to need something more than natural selection to account for it.






I Do Varieties wear out, or tend to wear out?

(New York Tribune, and American Journal of Science and the Arts, February, 1875)

This question has been argued from time to time for more than half a century, and is far from being settled yet. Indeed, it is not to be settled either way so easily as is sometimes thought. The result of a prolonged and rather lively discussion of the topic about forty years ago in England, in which Lindley bore a leading part on the negative side, was, if we rightly remember, that the nays had the best of the argument. The deniers could fairly well explain away the facts adduced by the other side, and evade the force of the reasons then assigned to prove that varieties were bound to die out in the course of time. But if the case were fully re-argued now, it is by no means certain that the nays would win it. The most they could expect would be the Scotch verdict, "not proven." And this not because much, if any, additional evidence of the actual wearing out of any variety has turned up since, but because a presumption has been raised under which the evidence would take a bias the other way. There is now in the minds of scientific men some reason to expect that certain varieties would die out in the long run, and this might have an important influence upon the interpretation of the facts. Curiously enough, however, the recent discussions to which our attention has been called seem, on both sides, to have overlooked this.

But, first of all, the question needs to be more specifically stated. There are varieties and varieties. They may, some of them, disappear or deteriorate, but yet not wear out—not come to an end from any inherent cause. One might even say, the younger they are the less the chance of survival unless well cared for. They may be smothered out by the adverse force of superior numbers; they are even more likely to be bred out of existence by unprevented cross-fertilization, or to disappear from mere change of fashion. The question, however, is not so much about reversion to an ancestral state, or the falling off of a high-bred stock into an inferior condition. Of such cases it is enough to say that, when a variety or strain, of animal or vegetable, is led up to unusual fecundity or of size or product of any organ, for our good, and not for the good of the plant or animal itself, it can be kept so only by high feeding and exceptional care; and that with high feeding and artificial appliances comes vastly increased liability to disease, which may practically annihilate the race. But then the race, like the bursted boiler, could not be said to wear out, while if left to ordinary conditions, and allowed to degenerate back into a more natural if less useful state, its hold on life would evidently be increased rather than diminished.

As to natural varieties or races under normal conditions, sexually propagated, it could readily be shown that they are neither more nor less likely to disappear from any inherent cause than the species from which they originated. Whether species wear out, i.e., have their rise, culmination, and decline, from any inherent cause, is wholly a geological and very speculative problem, upon which, indeed, only vague conjectures can be offered. The matter actually under discussion concerns cultivated domesticated varieties only, and, as to plants, is covered by two questions.

First, Will races propagated by seed, being so fixed that they come true to seed, and purely bred (not crossed with any other sort), continue so indefinitely, or will they run out in time—not die out, perhaps, but lose their distinguishing characters? Upon this, all we are able to say is that we know no reason why they should wear out or deteriorate from any inherent cause. The transient existence or the deterioration and disappearance of many such races are sufficiently accounted for otherwise; as in the case of extraordinarily exuberant varieties, such as mammoth fruits or roots, by increased liability to disease, already adverted to, or by the failure of the high feeding they demand. A common cause, in ordinary cases, is cross-breeding, through the agency of wind or insects, which is difficult to guard against. Or they go out of fashion and are superseded by others thought to be better, and so the old ones disappear.

Or, finally, they may revert to an ancestral form. As offspring tend to resemble grandparents almost as much as parents, and as a line of close-bred ancestry is generally prepotent, so newly-originated varieties have always a tendency to reversion. This is pretty sure to show itself in some of the progeny of the earlier generations, and the breeder has to guard against it by rigid selection. But the older the variety is—that is, the longer the series of generations in which it has come true from seed—the less the chance of reversion: for now, to be like the immediate parents, is also to be like a long line of ancestry; and so all the influences concerned—- that is, both parental and ancestral heritability—act in one and the same direction. So, since the older a race is the more reason it has to continue true, the presumption of the unlimited permanence of old races is very strong.

Of course the race itself may give off new varieties; but that is no interference with the vitality of the original stock. If some of the new varieties supplant the old, that will not be because the unvaried stock is worn out or decrepit with age, but because in wild Nature the newer forms are better adapted to the surroundings, or, under man's care, better adapted to his wants or fancies.

The second question, and one upon which the discussion about the wearing out of varieties generally turns, is, Will varieties propagated from buds, i.e., by division, grafts, bulbs, tubers, and the like, necessarily deteriorate and die out? First, Do they die out as a matter of fact? Upon this, the testimony has all along been conflicting. Andrew Knight was sure that they do, and there could hardly be a more trustworthy witness.

"The fact," he says, fifty years ago, "that certain varieties of some species of fruit which have been long cultivated cannot now be made to grow in the same soils and under the same mode of management, which was a century ago so perfectly successful, is placed beyond the reach of controversy. Every experiment which seemed to afford the slightest prospect of success was tried by myself and others to propagate the old varieties of the apple and pear which formerly constituted the orchards of Herefordshire, without a single healthy or efficient tree having been obtained; and I believe all attempts to propagate these varieties have, during some years, wholly ceased to be made."

To this it was replied, in that and the next generation, that cultivated vines have been transmitted by perpetual division from the time of the Romans, and that several of the sorts, still prized and prolific, are well identified, among them the ancient Graecula, considered to be the modern Corinth or currant grape, which has immemorially been seedless; that the old nonpareil apple was known in the time of Queen Elizabeth; that the white beurre pears of France have been propagated from the earliest times; and that golden pippins, St. Michael pears, and others said to have run out, were still to be had in good condition.

Coming down to the present year, a glance through the proceedings of pomological societies, and the debates of farmers' clubs, brings out the same difference of opinion. The testimony is nearly equally divided. Perhaps the larger number speak of the deterioration and failure of particular old sorts; but when the question turns on "wearing out," the positive evidence of vigorous trees and sound fruits is most telling. A little positive testimony outweighs a good deal of negative. This cannot readily be explained away, while the failures may be, by exhaustion of soil, incoming of disease, or alteration of climate or circumstances. On the other hand, it may be urged that, if a variety of this sort is fated to become decrepit and die out, it is not bound to die out all at once, and everywhere at the same time. It would be expected first to give way wherever it is weakest, from whatever cause. This consideration has an important bearing upon the final question, Are old varieties of this kind on the way to die out on account of their age or any inherent limit of vitality?

Here, again, Mr. Knight took an extreme view. In his essay in the "Philosophical Transactions," published in the year 1810, he propounded the theory, not merely of a natural limit to varieties from grafts and cuttings, but even that they would not survive the natural term of the life of the seedling trees from which they were originally taken. Whatever may have been his view of the natural term of the life of a tree, and of a cutting being merely a part of the individual that produced it, there is no doubt that he laid himself open to the effective replies which were made from all sides at the time, and have lost none of their force since. Weeping-willows, bread-fruits, bananas, sugar-cane, tiger-lilies, Jerusalem artichokes, and the like, have been propagated for a long while in this way, without evident decadence. Moreover, the analogy upon which his hypothesis is founded will not hold. Whether or not one adopts the present writer's conception, that individuality is not actually reached or maintained in the vegetable world, it is clear enough that a common plant or tree is not an individual in the sense that a horse or man, or any one of the higher animals, is—that it is an individual only in the sense that a branching zoophyte or mass of coral is. Solvitur crescendo: the tree and the branch equally demonstrate that they are not individuals, by being divided with impunity and advantage, with no loss of life, but much increase. It looks odd enough to see a writer like Mr. Sisley reproducing the old hypothesis in so bare a form as this: "I am prepared to maintain that varieties are individuals, and that as they are born they must die, like other individuals . . . We know that oaks, Sequoias, and other trees, live several centuries, but how many we do not exactly know. But that they must die, no one in his senses will dispute." Now, what people in their senses do dispute is, not that the tree will die, but that other trees, established from its cuttings, will die with it.

But does it follow from this that non-sexually-propagated varieties are endowed with the same power of unlimited duration that is possessed by varieties and species propagated sexually—i.e., by seed? Those who think so jump too soon at their conclusion. For, as to the facts, it is not enough to point out the diseases or the trouble in the soil or the atmosphere to which certain old fruits are succumbing, nor to prove that a parasitic fungus (Peronospora infestans) is what is the matter with potatoes. For how else would constitutional debility, if such there be, more naturally manifest itself than in such increased liability or diminished resistance to such attacks? And if you say that, anyhow, such varieties do not die of old age—meaning that each individual attacked does not die of old age, but of manifest disease—it may be asked in return, what individual man ever dies of old age in any other sense than of a similar inability to resist invasions which in earlier years would have produced no noticeable effect? Aged people die of a slight cold or a slight accident, but the inevitable weakness that attends old age is what makes these slight attacks fatal.

Finally, there is a philosophical argument which tells strongly for some limitation of the duration of non-sexually propagated forms, one that probably Knight never thought of, but which we should not have expected recent writers to overlook. When Mr. Darwin announced the principle that cross-fertilization between the individuals of a species is the plan of Nature, and is practically so universal that it fairly sustains his inference that no hermaphrodite species continually self-fertilized would continue to exist, he made it clear to all who apprehend and receive the principle that a series of plants propagated by buds only must have weaker hold of life than a series reproduced by seed. For the former is the closest possible kind of close breeding. Upon this ground such varieties may be expected ultimately to die out; but "the mills of the gods grind so exceeding slow" that we cannot say that any particular grist has been actually ground out under human observation.

If it be asked how the asserted principle is proved or made probable, we can here merely say that the proof is wholly inferential. But the inference is drawn from such a vast array of facts that it is wellnigh irresistible. It is the legitimate explanation of those arrangements in Nature to secure cross-fertilization in the species, either constantly or occasionally, which are so general, so varied and diverse, and, we may add, so exquisite and wonderful, that, once propounded, we see that it must be true.* What else, indeed, is the meaning and

* Here an article would be in place, explaining the arrangements in Nature for cross-fertilization, or wide-breeding, in plants, through the agency, sometimes of the winds, but more commonly of insects; the more so, since the development of the principle, the appreciation of its importance, and its confirmation by abundant facts, are mainly due to Mr. Darwin. But our reviews and notices of his early work "On the Contrivances in Nature for the Fertilization of Orchids by Means of Insects, in 1862, and his various subsequent papers upon other parts of this subject, are either too technical or too fragmentary or special to be here reproduced. Indeed, a popular essay is now hardly needed, since the topic has been fully presented, of late years, in the current popular and scientific journals, and in common educational works and text-books, so that it is in the way of becoming a part—and a most inviting part—of ordinary botanical instruction. use of sexual reproduction? Not simply increase of numbers; for that is otherwise effectually provided for by budding propagation in plants and many of the lower animals. There are plants, indeed, of the lower sort (such as diatoms), in which the whole multiplication takes place in this way, and with great rapidity. These also have sexual reproduction; but in it two old individuals are always destroyed to make a single new one! Here propagation diminishes the number of individuals fifty per cent. Who can suppose that such a costly process as this, and that all the exquisite arrangements for cross-fertilization in hermaphrodite plants, do not subserve some most important purpose? How and why the union of two organisms, or generally of two very minute portions of them, should reenforce vitality, we do not know, and can hardly conjecture. But this must be the meaning of sexual reproduction.

The conclusion of the matter, from the scientific point of view, is, that sexually-propagated varieties or races, although liable to disappear through change, need not be expected to wear out, and there is no proof that they do; but, that non-sexually propagated varieties, though not especially liable to change, may theoretically be expected to wear out, but to be a very long time about it.


Do Species wear out? and if not, why not?

The question we have just been considering was merely whether races are, or may be, as enduring as species. As to the inherently unlimited existence of species themselves, or the contrary, this, as we have said, is a geological and very speculative problem. Not a few geologists and naturalists, however, have concluded, or taken for granted, that species have a natural term of existence—that they culminate, decline, and disappear through exhaustion of specific vitality, or some equivalent internal cause. As might be expected from the nature of the inquiry, the facts which bear upon the question are far from decisive. If the fact that species in general have not been interminable, but that one after another in long succession has become extinct, would seem to warrant this conclusion, the persistence through immense periods of no inconsiderable number of the lower forms of vegetable and animal life, and of a few of the higher plants from the Tertiary period to the present, tells even more directly for the limitless existence of species. The disappearance is quite compatible with the latter view; while the persistence of any species is hardly explicable upon any other. So that, even under the common belief of the entire stability and essential inflexibility of species, extinction is more likely to have been accidental than predetermined, and the doctrine of inherent limitation is unsupported by positive evidence.

On the other hand, it is an implication of the Darwinian doctrine that species are essentially unlimited in existence. When they die out—as sooner or later any species may—the verdict must be accidental death, under stress of adverse circumstances, not exhaustion of vitality; and, commonly, when the species seems to die out, it will rather have suffered change. For the stock of vitality which enables it to vary and. survive in changed forms under changed circumstances must be deemed sufficient for a continued unchanged existence under unaltered conditions. And, indeed, the advancement from simpler to more complex, which upon the theory must have attended the diversification, would warrant or require the supposition of increase instead of diminution of power from age to age.

The only case we call to mind which, under the Darwinian view, might be interpreted as a dying out from inherent causes, is that of a species which refuses to vary, and thus lacks the capacity of adaptation to altering conditions. Under altering conditions, this lack would be fatal. But this would be the fatality of some species or form in particular, not of species or forms generally, which, for the most part, may and do vary sufficiently, and in varying survive, seemingly none the worse, but rather the better, for their long tenure of life.

The opposite idea, however, is maintained by M. Naudin,[XII-1] in a detailed exposition of his own views of evolution, which differ widely from those of Darwin in most respects, and notably in excluding that which, in our day, gives to the subject its first claim to scientific (as distinguished from purely speculative) attention; namely, natural selection. Instead of the causes or operations collectively personified under this term, and which are capable of exact or probable appreciation, M. Naudin invokes "the two principles of rhythm and of the decrease of forces in Nature." He is a thorough evolutionist, starting from essentially the same point with Darwin; for he conceives of all the forms or species of animals and plants "comme tire tout entier d'un protoplasma primordial, uniform, instable, eminemment plastique." Also in "l'integration croissante de la force evolutive a mesure qu'elle se partage dans les formes produites, et la decroissance proportionelle de la plasticite de ces formes a mesure qu'elles s'eloignent davantage de leur origine, et qu'elles sont mieux arretees." As they get older, they gain in fixity through the operation of the fundamental law of inheritance; but the species, like the individual, loses plasticity and vital force. To continue in the language of the original:

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