Inorganic Plant Toxins and Stimulants

  • Much study has been given during recent years to the question of the supposed poisonous, or toxic, effects upon plants of various soil constituents. There seems to be no doubt that certain organic compounds which are injurious to plant life are often present in the soil, either as the normal excretions of plant roots or as products of the decomposition of preceding plant growths.

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    While it is impossible, with our present knowledge, to even guess at the mechanism by which protoplasm condenses formaldehyde into sugars and these, in turn, into more complex carbohydrates, the structure and relationships to each other of the final products of photosynthesis are well known, and are discussed at length in the following chapter.

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  • While it is impossible, with our present knowledge, to even guess at the mechanism by which protoplasm condenses formaldehyde into sugars and these, in turn, into more complex carbohydrates, the structure and relationships to each other of the final products of photosynthesis are well known, and are discussed at length in the following chapter.

    The exact nature of the physiological effects which are produced by these mineral toxins is not clearly understood; indeed, it is probably different in the case of different metals.

  • The lipoids, or "lipins," as some authors prefer to call them, are substances of a fat-like nature which are found in small quantities in nearly all plant and animal tissues and in considerable proportions in nerve and brain substance, in egg yolk, etc., and in the seeds of plants.

  • Chlorine is found in small amounts in the sap and in the ash of nearly all plants. However, it does not appear to be essential to the growth of a plant, except possibly in the case of certain species, such as asparagus, buckwheat, and, perhaps, turnips and some other root crops. Whether the benefit which these crops derive from the application of common salt to the soil in which they are growing is due to the direct food value of either the chlorine, or the sodium, or to some indirect effect, is not yet known.

  • The bog–garden is a home for the numerous children of the wild that will not thrive on our harsh, bare, and dry garden borders, but must be cushioned on moss, and associated with their own relatives in moist peat soil. Many beautiful plants, like the Wind Gentian and Creeping Harebell, grow on our own bogs and marshes, much as these are now encroached upon. But even those acquainted with the beauty of the plants of our own bogs have, as a rule, but a feeble notion of the multitude of charming plants, natives of northern and temperate countries, whose home is the open marsh or boggy wood.


    In our own country, we have been so long encroaching upon the bogs and wastes that some of us come to regard them as exceptional tracts all over the world. But when one travels in new countries in northern climes, one soon learns what a vast extent of the world’s surface was at one time covered with bogs. In North America day after day, even by the margins of the railroads, one sees the vivid blooms of the Cardinal–flower springing erect from the wet peaty hollows. Far under the shady woods stretch the black bog–pools, the ground between being so shaky that you move a few steps with difficulty. One wonders how the trees exist with their roots in such a bath.