Effects of Cross and Self Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdom eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 516 pages of information about Effects of Cross and Self Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdom.
not interest me until I was struck with the uniform tint of the flowers on the self-fertilised plants of the fifth generation.  The flowers on the intercrossed plants of the corresponding generation were mostly of the same dull flesh colour, but not nearly so uniform as those on the self-fertilised plants, some few being very pale, almost white.  The self-fertilised plants which grew in a long row in the open ground were also remarkable for their uniformity in height, as were the intercrossed plants in a less degree, both lots being compared with a large number of plants raised at the same time under similar conditions from the self-fertilised plants of the fourth generation crossed by a fresh stock.  I regret that I did not attend to the uniformity in height of the self-fertilised seedlings in the later generations of the other species.

These few cases seem to me to possess much interest.  We learn from them that new and slight shades of colour may be quickly and firmly fixed, independently of any selection, if the conditions are kept as nearly uniform as is possible, and no intercrossing be permitted.  With Mimulus, not only a grotesque style of colouring, but a larger corolla and increased height of the whole plant were thus fixed; whereas with most plants which have been long cultivated for the flower-garden, no character is more variable than that of colour, excepting perhaps that of height.  From the consideration of these cases we may infer that the variability of cultivated plants in the above respects is due, firstly, to their being subjected to somewhat diversified conditions, and, secondly, to their being often intercrossed, as would follow from the free access of insects.  I do not see how this inference can be avoided, as when the above plants were cultivated for several generations under closely similar conditions, and were intercrossed in each generation, the colour of their flowers tended in some degree to change and to become uniform.  When no intercrossing with other plants of the same stock was allowed,—­that is, when the flowers were fertilised with their own pollen in each generation—­their colour in the later generations became as uniform as that of plants growing in a state of nature, accompanied at least in one instance by much uniformity in the height of the plants.  But in saying that the diversified tints of the flowers on cultivated plants treated in the ordinary manner are due to differences in the soil, climate, etc., to which they are exposed, I do not wish to imply that such variations are caused by these agencies in any more direct manner than that in which the most diversified illnesses, as colds, inflammation of the lungs or pleura, rheumatism, etc., may be said to be caused by exposure to cold.  In both cases the constitution of the being which is acted on is of preponderant importance.



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Effects of Cross and Self Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdom from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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