The Organic Components of Plants

  • Calcium is an essential plant food element but its physiological use has not yet been definitely established. It seems to stimulate root-development, and certainly gives vigor and tone to the whole plant. It is commonly believed that calcium is in some way connected with the development of cell-wall material. It has been reported that the stems of grasses and cereal plants become stiffer in the presence of ample calcium, but this may be due to greater turgidity rather than to strengthened cell-walls. Calcium remains in the leaves or stem as the plant ripens, but it is not clear that this has anything to do with the stiffness or weakness of the stem, or straw, of the plant. Experiments with algae have shown that in the absence of calcium salts mitotic cell division takes place, showing that the nucleus functions properly, but the formation of the new transverse cell-wall is retarded. This is the only direct evidence that has been reported that calcium has any connection with cell-wall formation.

  • Pollen is made up of individual pollen grains, which are very often stuck together so that we see only the mass, not the individual pollen grain. Sometimes the pollen is not sticky, as in the case of pine trees or in the ragweed—a fertile cause of hay fever. In these, and hundreds of other plants, the wind will blow great clouds of pollen through the air.

    When we stop to consider that a single, or at most a very few pollen grains are all that are necessary—in fact, are all that can be of real service—the enormous wastage of the male fertilizing substance, in order that mating be secured, gives us some idea of how prodigal is nature in this supreme function.

  • I have just been singing my morning song, and I wish you could have heard it. I think you would have liked it. I always sing very early in the morning. I sing because I am happy, and the people like to hear me.