Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/94

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84
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

times. Glandular hairs lead up the margin of the pitcher, and through its mouth to a field of such sugar-plums as grow everywhere in fairyland. Flies, ants, and sometimes moths, follow the baited path to feed on the sweets. But getting out is not so easy as going in. Some, reaching the limit of the sugar grove, slip on the glassy surface which is below it; others, satiated with the honey, try to fly away, but are dashed against the opposing lid of the pitfall, fall back into the tube again, and at last they, too, slip from the middle walls to be drained and more or less completely digested by the fluid secreted from myriads of hairs at its base.

The lure of the allied genus, Darlingtonia, is still more perfect. The singular, orange-red, fleshy, two-lobed organ which hangs over the pitcher's mouth much resembles the flower of the same plant, so that visitors which normally pollinate that may be betrayed by the double deceit. This is curiously like Stewart's description of an Asiatic lizard whose body is protectively colored like the sand on which it lives, but at each angle of the mouth a fold is produced into a shape "exactly resembling a little red flower which grows in the sand." Insects approach and are captured.

The elongated, hollow leaf-tips of Nepenthes have the same general purple coloration. The shade of many an insect which has perished in such a drunkard's grave emphasizes the "touch-not, taste-not" law—"he that is careless in his ways shall die."

The sparkling glands of the sun-dew, pinguicula, and Venus's fly-trap are scattered over the flat leaf-blades. A Portuguese genus is called by the villagers "the fly-catcher," and hung up in their cottages as such. A single plant of martynia, about three feet high and as many in diameter, caught seven thousand two hundred small flies. The abundant hairs secrete an exceedingly viscid fluid, whose unpleasant odor comes to the help of color. The disagreeable smell of Arum crinitum also draws many small flies to its spathes, from which escape is made difficult by the sticky downward-pointing hairs of their inner surfaces. Some of the visitors, unable to make their way out, die and are apparently digested. Others crawl up the spadix and fly away to deposit pollen on the stigmas at the base of the next spathe which they enter and in which they will probably die in their turn. So, as perhaps in Darlingtonia, one insect serves two important purposes. " Thrift, thrift, Horatio!" The priests themselves furnish forth the meats of the marriage-tables.

The prevailing colors of the attractive parts of all these plants, with the single exception of the bladder-wort, are the same that we shall find again in fly-pollinated flowers. The lurid red, purple, or pink of the pitcher-plants, sun-dew, etc., recall the blossoms