The entire nematocyst is enclosed in the cnidoblast which formed it.
Many points in the development and mechanism of the nematocyst are disputed, but it is tolerably certain (I) that the cnidocil is of sensory nature, and that stimulation, by contact with prey or in other ways, causes a reflex discharge of the nematocyst; (2) that the discharge is an explosive change whereby the in-turned thread is suddenly everted and turned inside out, being thus shot through the opening in the outer wall of the capsule, and forced violently into the tissues of the prey, or, it may be, of an enemy; (3) that the thread inflicts not merely a mechanical wound, but instils an irritant poison, numbing and paralysing in its action.
The cnidoblasts are the mother-cells of the nematocysts, each cell producing one nematocyst in its interior.
The complete nematocyst (fig.
When the nematocyst is completely developed, the cnidoblast passes outwards so as to occupy a superficial position in the ectoderm, and a delicate protoplasmic process of sensory nature, termed the cnidocil (cn) projects from the cnidoblast like a fine hair or cilium.