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.
Hymenoptera have inherited from some early nectar-sucking progenitor greater skill in robbing flowers than that which is displayed by insects belonging to the other Orders.) All kinds of bees and certain other insects usually visit the flowers of the same species as long as they can, before going to another species.  This fact was observed by Aristotle with respect to the hive-bee more than 2000 years ago, and was noticed by Dobbs in a paper published in 1736 in the Philosophical Transactions.  It may be observed by any one, both with hive and humble-bees, in every flower-garden; not that the habit is invariably followed.  Mr. Bennett watched for several hours many plants of Lamium album, L. purpureum, and another Labiate plant, Nepeta glechoma, all growing mingled together on a bank near some hives; and he found that each bee confined its visits to the same species. (11/2.  ‘Nature’ 1874 June 4 page 92.) The pollen of these three plants differs in colour, so that he was able to test his observations by examining that which adhered to the bodies of the captured bees, and he found one kind on each bee.

Humble and hive-bees are good botanists, for they know that varieties may differ widely in the colour of their flowers and yet belong to the same species.  I have repeatedly seen humble-bees flying straight from a plant of the ordinary red Dictamnus fraxinella to a white variety; from one to another very differently coloured variety of Delphinium consolida and of Primula veris; from a dark purple to a bright yellow variety of Viola tricolor; and with two species of Papaver, from one variety to another which differed much in colour; but in this latter case some of the bees flew indifferently to either species, although passing by other genera, and thus acted as if the two species were merely varieties.  Hermann Muller also has seen hive-bees flying from flower to flower of Ranunculus bulbosus and arvensis, and of Trifolium fragiferum and repens; and even from blue hyacinths to blue violets. (11/3.  ’Bienen Zeitung’ July 1876 page 183.)

Some species of Diptera or flies keep to the flowers of the same species with almost as much regularity as do bees; and when captured they are found covered with pollen.  I have seen Rhingia rostrata acting in this manner with the flowers of Lychnis dioica, Ajuga reptans, and Vici sepium.  Volucella plumosa and Empis cheiroptera flew straight from flower to flower of Myosotis sylvatica.  Dolichopus nigripennis behaved in the same manner with Potentilla tormentilla; and other Diptera with Stellaria holostea, Helianthemum vulgare, Bellis perennis, Veronica hederaefolia and chamoedrys; but some flies visited indifferently the flowers of these two latter species.  I have seen more than once a minute Thrips, with pollen adhering to its body, fly from one flower to another of the same kind; and one was observed by me crawling about within a convolvulus with four grains of pollen adhering to its head, which were deposited on the stigma.

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