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.
It will be remembered by our readers that last year we called attention to a long slender hair worm found in an apple at York, Pa., and which was supposed by some to be the common Hair worm, Gordius Aquaticus, but which was found by Dr. Leidy to be an old acquaintance of his of quite a different character. In the Proceedings of the Society just issued, we find the following additional note: Prof. Leidy exhibited a living specimen of Mermis acuminata, which had been sent to him for examination, the 8th of last August, by Mr. P. H. Foster, of Babylon, Long Island, N. Y. It was one of two specimens which Mr. Foster had taken from apple worms found concealed in a woolen rag tied around the trunk of an apple tree in his garden. The Mermis is 7 1/2 inches long and had been retained alive in a box with moist sphagnum. It exhibits a condition which Prof. L. had observed on several previous occasions in other species of Mermis. An intermediate portion of the body, apparently from injury, had died and was decomposed, while the extremities held together by the integument, were still alive and active.
This condition has been observed to be maintained for some time, that is to say, for some weeks."
We' also extract the following from the same publication: "Variations in the Stipular Spines of Robinia Pseud-acacia. - Mr. Thomas Meehan referred to the thorns of the yellow locust, which, as usually seen, were about a quarter of an inch long, and nearly as wide at the base; triangular in shape. At the meeting of the American Association at Detroit he collected specimens, one of which he exhibited, with slender spines, about three-quarters of an inch long. Since then, in the vicinity of Chicago, he had noticed that there was considerable variation in the direction of long and slender spines. In his own vicinity he had since noted a large number of trees, and some variation, but only to-day had he found one with long, slender spines, and that was even longer than the case from Detroit, being in some cases a full inch in length. The fact of this great variation was probably new; but it was also interesting from its bearing on a physiological question of importance. The first suggestion made by most of his botanical friends, to whom he had mentioned these facts, and he believed the first that would occur to the minds of most botanists, would be that these extra strong spines would be found in connection with extra strong shoots.
If these were true spines - that is to say, abortive branches - the inference would be a fair one; but these thorns were the analogues of stipules, as we look for in allied leguminous plants, and would, therefore, be most likely to follow the laws which influenced stipular productions. One of those laws was, at least so far as his own observation went, that stipular development was in inverse ratio to ordinary growth force. For instance, we say that the scales which cover the buds of trees in winter are metamorphosed leaves; but this is, in many cases, certainly not strictly true. Bud scales are, in many cases, but modified stipules where leaves have these appendages, and dilated petioles where they have not. This peculiar development of the stipules, of course, only commences with the decline of growth force in the axis in the fall, or before it has achieved great power in the spring.
"The specimens of Robinia exhibited illustrated the same law. In the one from Detroit - the three-quarter inch slender stipular spines - it would be seen by the members, were not from a very vigorous branch, but from a very slender one; but the best illustration was on the strong branch which he exhibited, cut to-day, and with the inch spines before referred to. This was from the upper portion of a branch of this year's growth, 6 feet long. On the lower portion of the part exhibited, produced when the growth force would be at its maximum, the spines are of the normal size, about one-quarter of an inch in length; and these spines increase in length gradually to an inch, in proportion as the season's growth becomes weaker. But there is a still stronger illustration in the secondary branchlets which have grown from the main one. These are no thicker than straws, but the spines are about three-quarters of an inch in length, and slender, and much larger in comparison with the axis to which they are attached, than the largest on the strong main branch."