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.

All the self-fertilised plants of the seventh generation, and I believe of one or two previous generations, produced flowers of exactly the same tint, namely, of a rich dark purple.  So did all the plants, without any exception, in the three succeeding generations of self-fertilised plants; and very many were raised on account of other experiments in progress not here recorded.  My attention was first called to this fact by my gardener remarking that there was no occasion to label the self-fertilised plants, as they could always be known by their colour.  The flowers were as uniform in tint as those of a wild species growing in a state of nature; whether the same tint occurred, as is probable, in the earlier generations, neither my gardener nor self could recollect.  The flowers on the plants which were first raised from purchased seed, as well as during the first few generations, varied much in the depth of the purple tint; many were more or less pink, and occasionally a white variety appeared.  The crossed plants continued to the tenth generation to vary in the same manner as before, but to a much less degree, owing, probably, to their having become more or less closely inter-related.  We must therefore attribute the extraordinary uniformity of colour in the flowers on the plants of the seventh and succeeding self-fertilised generations, to inheritance not having been interfered with by crosses during several preceding generations, in combination with the conditions of life having been very uniform.

A plant appeared in the sixth self-fertilised generation, named the Hero, which exceeded by a little in height its crossed antagonist, and which transmitted its powers of growth and increased self-fertility to its children and grandchildren.  A cross between the children of Hero did not give to the grandchildren any advantage over the self-fertilised grandchildren raised from the self-fertilised children.  And as far as my observations can be trusted, which were made on very unhealthy plants, the great-grandchildren raised from intercrossing the grandchildren had no advantage over the seedlings from the grandchildren the product of continued self-fertilisation; and what is far more remarkable, the great-grandchildren raised by crossing the grandchildren with a fresh stock, had no advantage over either the intercrossed or self-fertilised great-grandchildren.  It thus appears that Hero and its descendants differed in constitution in an extraordinary manner from ordinary plants of the present species.

Although the plants raised during ten successive generations from crosses between distinct yet inter-related plants almost invariably exceeded in height, constitutional vigour, and fertility their self-fertilised opponents, it has been proved that seedlings raised by intercrossing flowers on the same plant are by no means superior, on the contrary are somewhat inferior in height and weight, to seedlings raised from flowers fertilised with their own pollen.  This is a remarkable fact, which seems to indicate that self-fertilisation is in some manner more advantageous than crossing, unless the cross brings with it, as is generally the case, some decided and preponderant advantage; but to this subject I shall recur in a future chapter.

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