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The Power of Movement in Plants

Charles Darwin

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .their horizontal or downwardly deflected diurnal position.

Mimosa pudica.—The cotyledons were expanded for the first time on Nov. 2nd, and stood vertical at night. On the 15th the first leaf was formed, and at night the cotyledons were vertical. On the 28th they behaved in the same manner. On Dec. 15th, that is after 44 days, the cotyledons were still considerably raised at night; but those of another seedling, only one day older, were raised very little.

Mimosa albida.—A seedling was observed during only 12 days, by which time a leaf had been formed, and the cotyledons were then quite vertical at night.

Trifolium subterraneum.—A seedling, 8 days old, had its cotyledons horizontal at 10.30 A.M. and vertical at 9.15 P.M. After an interval of two months, by which time the first and second true leaves had been developed, the cotyledons still performed the same movement. They had now increased greatly in size, and had bec. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Lots of raw data that demonstrates Darwin ' s meticulous nature. The summaries of the data are the more interesting and readable parts of the book. The descriptions of his experimental methods are also very interesting.

These are classic experiments about phototropism. A fascinating view of a scientific mind at work. Elegant reasoning, curiosity and creativity. The next big advance in the field came almost a century after, with molecular biology and genetics.

Shellac. Lamp blacking. Olive oil. Pins (various). Glass fibers. Darwin's classic examination of plant movements (or "circumnutation") in response to such stimuli as light, gravity, temperature, and moisture, also offers a nostalgic look back at the nineteenth-century beginnings of modern plant scie