Effects of Cross and Self Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdom eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 459 pages of information about Effects of Cross and Self Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdom.
by which the stigma in the several genera is screened from the action of the pollen from the same flower.  For instance, in Synaphea “the stigma is held by the eunuch (i.e., one of the stamens which is barren) safe from all pollution from her brother anthers, and is preserved intact for any pollen that may be inserted by insects and other agencies.”) As far as anemophilous plants are concerned, we know that they are apt to have their sexes separated, and we can see that it would be an unfavourable circumstance for them to bear their flowers very close to the ground, as their pollen is liable to be blown high up in the air (10/62.  Kerner ‘Schutzmittel des Pollens’ 1873 page 4.); but as the culms of grasses give sufficient elevation, we cannot thus account for so many trees and bushes being diclinous.  We may infer from our previous discussion that a tree bearing numerous hermaphrodite flowers would rarely intercross with another tree, except by means of the pollen of a distinct individual being prepotent over the plants’ own pollen.  Now the separation of the sexes, whether the plant were anemophilous are entomophilous, would most effectually bar self-fertilisation, and this may be the cause of so many trees and bushes being diclinous.  Or to put the case in another way, a plant would be better fitted for development into a tree, if the sexes were separated, than if it were hermaphrodite; for in the former case its numerous flowers would be less liable to continued self-fertilisation.  But it should also be observed that the long life of a tree or bush permits of the separation of the sexes, with much less risk of evil from impregnation occasionally failing and seeds not being produced, than in the case of short-lived plants.  Hence it probably is, as Lecoq has remarked, that annual plants are rarely dioecious.

Finally, we have seen reason to believe that the higher plants are descended from extremely low forms which conjugated, and that the conjugating individuals differed somewhat from one another,—­the one representing the male and the other the female—­so that plants were aboriginally dioecious.  At a very early period such lowly organised dioecious plants probably gave rise by budding to monoecious plants with the two sexes borne by the same individual; and by a still closer union of the sexes to hermaphrodite plants, which are now much the commonest form. (10/63.  There is a considerable amount of evidence that all the higher animals are the descendants of hermaphrodites; and it is a curious problem whether such hermaphroditism may not have been the result of the conjugation of two slightly different individuals, which represented the two incipient sexes.  On this view, the higher animals may now owe their bilateral structure, with all their organs double at an early embryonic period, to the fusion or conjugation of two primordial individuals.) As soon as plants became affixed to the ground, their pollen must have been carried by some means from flower to flower, at first almost certainly by the wind, then by pollen-devouring, and afterwards by nectar-seeking insects.  During subsequent ages some few entomophilous plants have been again rendered anemophilous, and some hermaphrodite plants have had their sexes again separated; and we can vaguely see the advantages of such recurrent changes under certain conditions.

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