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differently affected by light; and they give distinct spectra. Mr. Sorby further states that scores of different colouring matters are found in the leaves and flowers of plants, to some of which appropriate names have been given, as erythrophyll which is red, and phaiophyll which is brown; and many of these differ greatly from each other in their chemical composition. These inquiries are at present in their infancy, but as the original term chlorophyll seems scarcely applicable under the present aspect of the subject, it would perhaps be better to introduce the analogous word Chromophyll, as a general term for the colouring matters of the vegetable kingdom.
Light has a much more decided action on plants than on animals. The green colour of leaves is almost wholly dependent on it; and although some flowers will become fully coloured in the dark, others are decidedly affected by the absence of light, even when the foliage is fully exposed to it.
Looking therefore at the numerous colouring matters which are developed in the tissues of plants, the sensitiveness of these pigments to light, the changes they undergo during growth and development, and the facility with which new chemical combinations are effected by the physiological processes of plants as shown by the endless variety in the chemical constitution of vegetable products, we have no difficulty in comprehending the general causes which aid in producing the colours of the vegetable world, or the extreme variability of those colours. We may therefore here confine ourselves to an inquiry into the various uses of colour in the economy of plants; and this will generally enable us to understand how it has become fixed and
specialised in the several genera and species of the vegetable kingdom.
Protective Coloration and Mimicry in Plants.—In animals, as we have seen, colour is greatly influenced by the need of protection from, or of warning to, their numerous enemies, and by the necessity for identification and easy recognition. Plants rarely need to be concealed, and obtain protection either by their spines, their hardness, their hairy covering, or their poisonous secretions. A very few cases of what seem to be true protective colouring do, however, exist; the most remarkable being that of the “stone mesembryanthemum," of the Cape of Good Hope, which, in form and colour closely resembles the stones among which it grows; and Dr. Burchell, who first discovered it, believes that the juicy little plant thus generally escapes the notice of cattle and wild herbivorous animals. Mr. J. P. Mansel Weale also noticed that
many plants growing in the stony Karoo have their tuberous roots above the soil; and these so perfectly resemble the stones among which they grow that, when not in leaf, it is almost impossible to distinguish them (Nature, vol. iii. p. 507). A few cases of what seems to be protective mimicry have also been noted; the most curious being that of three very rare British fungi, found by Mr. Worthington Smith, each in company with common species which they so closely resembled that only a minute examination could detect the difference. Onc of the common species is stated in botanical works to be “ bitter and nauseous," so that it is not improbable that the rare kind may escape being eaten by being mistaken for an uneatable species, though itself palatable. Mr. Mansel Weale also mentions a labiate plant, the Ajuga
ophrydis, of South Africa, as strikingly resembling an orchid. This may be a means of attracting insects to fertilize the flower in the absence of sufficient nectar or other attraction in the flower itself ; and the supposition is rendered more probable by this being the only species of the genus Ajuga in South Africa. Many other cases of resemblances between very distinct plants have been noticed—as that of some Euphorbias to Cacti; but these very rarely inhabit the same country or locality, and it has not been proved that there is in any of these cases the amount of inter-relation between the species which is the essential feature of the protective “mimicry” that occurs in the animal world.
The different colours exhibited by the foliage of plants and the changes it undergoes during growth and decay, appear to be due to the general laws already sketched out, and to have little if any relation to the special requirements of each species. But flowers and fruits exhibit definite and well-pronounced tints, often varying from species to species, and more or less clearly related to the habits and functions of the plant. With the few exceptions already pointed out, these may be generally classed as attractive colours.
Attractive Colours of Fruits.—The seeds of plants require to be dispersed, so as to reach places favourable for germination and growth. Some are very minute, and are carried abroad by the wind; or they are violently expelled and scattered by the bursting of the containing capsules. Others are downy or winged, and are carried long distances by the gentlest breeze; or they are hooked and stick to the fur of animals. But there is a large class.of seeds which cannot be dispersed in either of these
ways, and they are mostly contained in eatable fruits. These fruits are devoured by birds or beasts, and the hard seeds pass through their stomachs undigested, and, owing probably to the gentle heat and moisture to which they have been subjected, in a condition highly favourable for germination. The dry fruits or capsules containing the first two classes of seeds are rarely, if ever, conspicuously coloured; whereas the eatable fruits almost invariably acquire a bright colour as they ripen, while at the same time they become soft and often full of agreeable juices. Our red haws and hips, our black elderberries, our blue sloes, and whortleberries, our white mistletoe and snowberry, and our orange sea-buckthorn, are examples of the colour-sign of edibility; and in every part of the world the same phenomenon is found. Many such fruits are poisonous to man and to some animals, but they are harmless to others; and there is probably nowhere a brightly-coloured pulpy fruit which does not serve as food for some species of bird or mammal.
Protective Colours of Fruits.—The nuts and other hard fruits of large forest-trees, though often greedily eaten by animals, are not rendered attractive to them by colour, because they are not intended to be eaten. This is evident; for the part eaten in these cases is the seed itself, the destruction of which must certainly be injurious to the species. Mr. Grant Allen, in his ingenious work on Physiological Asthetics, well observes that the colours of all such fruits are protective -green when on the tree, and thus hardly visible among the foliage, but turning brown as they ripen and fall on the ground, as filberts, chestnuts, walnuts, beechnuts, and many others. It is also to be noted that
many of these are specially though imperfectly protected; some by a prickly coat as in the chestnuts, or by a nauseous covering as in the walnut; and the reason why the protection is not carried further is probably because it is not needed, these trees producing such vast quantities of fruit, that however many are caten, more than enough are always left to produce young plants. In the case of the attractively coloured fruits, it is curious to observe how the seeds are always of such a nature as to escape destruction when the fruit itself is eaten. They are generally very small and comparatively hard, as in the strawberry, gooseberry, and fig; if a little larger, as in the grape, they are still harder and less eatable; in the fruit of the rose (or hip) they are disagreeably hairy ; in the orange tribe excessively bitter. When the seeds are larger, softer, and more eatable, they are protected by an excessively hard and stony covering, as in the plum and peach tribe; or they are inclosed in a tough horny core, as with crabs and apples. These last are much eaten by swine, and are probably crushed and swallowed without bruising the core or the seeds, which pass through their bodies undigested. These fruits may also be swallowed by some of the larger frugivorous birds ; just as nutmegs are swallowed by pigeons for the sake of the mace which incloses the nut, and which by its brilliant red colour is an attraction as soon as the fruit has split open, which it does upon the tree.
There is, however, one curious case of an attractively coloured seed which has no soft eatable covering. The Abrus precatoria, or rosary bean,” is a leguminous shrub or small tree growing in many tropical countries,