The Fairy-Land of Science eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 185 pages of information about The Fairy-Land of Science.

But I fancy I see two or three little questioning faces which seem to say, “I see no yellow bags at the top of the tube.”  Well, I cannot tell whether you can or not in the specimen you have in your hand; for one of the most curious things about primrose flowers is, that some of them have these yellow bags at the top of the tube and some of them hidden down right in the middle.  But this I can tell you:those of you who have got no yellow bags at the top will have a round knob there (I a, Fig. 43), and will find the yellow bags (b) buried in the tube.  Those, on the other hand, who have the yellow bags (2 b, Fig. 43) at the top will find the knob (a) half-way down the tube.

Now for the use of these yellow bags, which are called the anthers of the stamens, the stalk on which they grow being called the filament or thread.  If you can manage to split them open you will find that they have a yellow powder in them, called pollen, the same as the powder which sticks to your nose when you put it into a lily; and if you look with a magnifying glass at the little green knob in the centre of the flower, you will probably see some of this yellow dust sticking on it (A, Fig. 43).  We will leave it there for a time, and examine the body called the pistil, to which the knob belongs.  Pull off the yellow corolla (which will come off quite easily), and turn back the green leaves.  You will then see that the knob stands on the top of a column, and at the bottom of this column there is a round ball (s v), which is a vessel for holding the seeds.  In this diagram (A, Fig. 43) I have drawn the whole of this curious ball and column as if cut in half, so that we may see what is in it.  In the middle of the ball, in a cluster, there are a number of round transparent little bodies, looking something like round green orange-cells full of juice.  They are really cells full of protoplasm, with one little dark spot in each of them, which by-and-by is to make our little plantlet that we found in the seed.

“These, then, are seeds,” you will say.  Not yet; they are only ovules, or little bodies which may become seeds.  If they were left as they are they would all wither and die.  But those little grains of pollen, which we saw sticking to the knob at the top, are coming down to help them.  As soon as these yellow grains touch the sticky knob or stigma, as it is called, they throw out tubes, which grow down the column until they reach the ovules.  In each one of these they find a tiny hole, and into this they creep, and then they pour into the ovule all the protoplasm from the pollen-grain which is sticking above, and this enables it to grow into a real seed, with a tiny plantlet inside.

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The Fairy-Land of Science from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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