This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
At p. 24 we endeavored to show that deep roots take in only water, because there is nothing more that they can take, and referred to a similar experience Mr. Darwin's in regard to Drosera. The follow-f ing is Mr. Darwin's:
"The absorption of animal matter from captured insects explains how Drosera can flourish in poor, peaty soil, - in some cases where nothing but sphagnum moss grows, and mosses depend altogether on the atmosphere for their nourishment.
"We can thus understand how it is that Drosera roots are so poorly developed. These usually consist of only two or three slightly divided branches, from half to one inch in length furnished with absorbent hairs. It appears, therefore, that the roots serve only to imbibe water, though no doubt they would absorb nutritious matter if present in the soil, for, as we shall hereafter see, they absorb a weak solution of carbonate of ammonia."
A correspondent calls our attention to our statement, and so we give Mr. Darwin's own words. The Drosera roots cannot, in the sense in which we said deep roots of trees could not, "because there is nothing else to take." If, however, the expression " cannot" were to be taken as "absolutely powerless," it would be an interpretation not warranted by Mr. Darwin's words.
We used Mr. Darwin's observation merely to illustrate our own point in regard to deep roots not having anything to take but water, without any regard to its application to Mr. Darwin's case. But since our attention has been more particularly drawn to it by our correspondent, we are led to ask whether the peaty or boggy places in which many Droseras grow are really so "poor" as Mr. Darwin's language would seem to imply?