The subject of the present volume, namely the differently formed flowers normally produced by certain kinds of plants, either on the same stock or on distinct stocks, ought to have been treated by a professed botanist, to which distinction I can lay no claim. As far as the sexual relations of flowers are concerned, Linnaeus long ago divided them into hermaphrodite, monoecious, dioecious, and polygamous species. This fundamental distinction, with the aid of several subdivisions in each of the four classes, will serve my purpose; but the classification is artificial, and the groups often pass into one another.

The hermaphrodite class contains two interesting sub-groups, namely, heterostyled and cleistogamic plants; but there are several other less important subdivisions, presently to be given, in which flowers differing in various ways from one another are produced by the same species.

Some plants were described by me several years ago, in a series of papers read before the Linnean Society, the individuals of which exist under two or three forms, differing in the length of their pistils and stamens and in other respects. (Introduction/1. "On the Two Forms or Dimorphic Condition in the Species of Primula, and on their remarkable Sexual Relations" 'Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society' volume 6 1862 page 77. "On the Existence of Two Forms, and on their Reciprocal Sexual Relation, in several Species of the Genus Linum" Ibid volume 7 1863 page 69. "On the Sexual Relations of the Three Forms of Lythrum salicaria" Ibid volume 8 1864 page 169. "On the Character and Hybrid-like Nature of the Offspring from the Illegitimate Unions of Dimorphic and Trimorphic Plants" Ibid volume 10 1868 page 393. "On the Specific Differences between Primula veris, Brit. Fl. (var. officinalis, Linn.), P. vulgaris, Brit. Fl. (var. acaulis, Linn.), and P. elatior, Jacq.; and on the Hybrid Nature of the Common oxlip. With Supplementary Remarks on Naturally Produced Hybrids in the Genus Verbascum" Ibid volume 10 1868 page 437.) They were called by me dimorphic and trimorphic, but have since been better named by Hildebrand, heterostyled. (Introduction/2. The term "heterostyled" does not express all the differences between the forms; but this is a failure common in many cases. As the term has been adopted by writers in various countries, I am unwilling to change it for that of heterogone or heterogonous, though this has been proposed by so high an authority as Professor Asa Gray: see the 'American Naturalist' January 1877 page 42.) As I have many still unpublished observations with respect to these plants, it has seemed to me advisable to republish my former papers in a connected and corrected form, together with the new matter. It will be shown that these heterostyled plants are adapted for reciprocal fertilisation; so that the two or three forms, though all are hermaphrodites, are related to one another almost like the males and females of ordinary unisexual animals. I will also give a full abstract of such observations as have been published since the appearance of my papers; but only those cases will be noticed, with respect to which the evidence seems fairly satisfactory. Some plants have been supposed to be heterostyled merely from their pistils and stamens varying greatly in length, and I have been myself more than once thus deceived. With some species the pistil continues growing for a long time, so that if old and young flowers are compared they might be thought to be heterostyled. Again, a species tending to become dioecious, with the stamens reduced in some individuals and with the pistils in others, often presents a deceptive appearance. Unless it be proved that one form is fully fertile only when it is fertilised with pollen from another form, we have not complete evidence that the species is heterostyled. But when the pistils and stamens differ in length in two or three sets of individuals, and this is accompanied by a difference in the size of the pollen-grains or in the state of the stigma, we may infer with much safety that the species is heterostyled.

The Different Forms of Flowers on Plants of the Same Species Page 03

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

Charles Darwin

All Pages of This Book