Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/397

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INSECTIVOROUS PLANTS.

It was not until the summer of 1881 that I had access to a good microscope, since which time I have spent many hours in trying to penetrate this mystery. In this I have been greatly assisted by my friend Dr. J. H. W. Meyer, who was at first very skeptical in regard to my confident assertions that here was a new insectivorous plant, but who grew more and more interested, and finally became an enthusiastic convert.

Upon our first examination, we found that the hairs—tentacles we have learned to call them—varied in length, were somewhat thickened at the base, usually three-celled, the last cell being expanded into a spherical shape. Small protuberances were often found upon the sides of the hairs (Fig. 1), but more commonly upon the bulbous tip. Sometimes these cells seemed to me to have a decidedly spiral form, but of this I could never be quite sure. The tentacles were extremely flexible, sometimes turning sharply backward, as in Fig. 2.

I have made many observations, with a hand-magnifier, upon the plants in the garden. I found the freshly captured insects most plentiful

PSM V23 D397 Different states of the follicles of an insectivorous plant.jpg

about nightfall, at which time the petunia-blossoms emit a powerful odor, and the clamminess of the leaves and stems is most noticeable. I have seen insects as large as the common red ant struggle and die, and have found the horny wings of small Coleoptera, but most frequently I have found small spiders, gnats, etc.

When an insect alights upon a leaf (I say leaf, although the hairs upon the stems, calyxes, and even the outer and lower portions of the flower-tubes are quite as vigorous, and as often successful), it at first manifests much alarm, runs with as much strength as possible up and down and under the leaf, lifting its feet with more and more of an effort, until at last, either benumbed or exhausted, its motions are almost imperceptible, and sometimes for an hour will occur at such long intervals that one decides half a dozen times that death must already have taken place. On one occasion, a branch bearing a lively