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The Plant Commonwealth and its Mode of Government

Nature volume 114, pages 5557 (12 July 1924) | Download Citation



TO describe in any detail the different kinds of receptor, or receiving apparatus, whereby an external stimulus of light, gravity, etc., is registered by the plant, lies beyond the purpose of this discourse. It is, however, essential to that purpose to point out that the region of reception of the stimulus is often separated by some distance from the region of reaction. Cut or burn the root of a sensitive plant, and presently the leaves begin to move. First, those nearest to the base of the stem bend down hingewise on the leaf cushion (pulvinus) and their leaflets fold together; then in succession those higher up the stem undergo a like series of changes, until all have soon reacted to the. shock. Place a root on its side and its growing region an inch or so behind the tip, elongating more on the upper than on the lower side, initiates a curvature which continues until the tip points again vertically downward. But if, as Darwin showed, the tip be cut off before the root is placed in a horizontal position, no curvature occurs until a new root-tip has been regenerated. In the intervening days the root continues to grow horizontally. Cover or cut off the tip of the first leaf of a grass seedling and the actively elongating region fails to respond by curvature to one-sided illumination.

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