J. Scott 'Journal of Botany' London new series volume 1 1872 pages 161-164.) From what we know in other cases of the use of the corolla, coloured bracteae, etc., and from what H. Muller has observed on the frequency of the visits of insects to the flower-heads of the Umbelliferae and Compositae being largely determined by their conspicuousness, there can be no doubt that the increased size of the corolla of the outer flowers, the inner ones being in all the above cases small, serves to attract insects. (Introduction/6. 'Die Befruchtung der Blumen' pages 108, 412.) The result is that cross-fertilisation is thus favoured. Most flowers wither soon after being fertilised, but Hildebrand states that the ray-florets of the Compositae last for a long time, until all those on the disc are impregnated; and this clearly shows the use of the former. (Introduction/7. See his interesting memoir 'Ueber die Geschlechtsverhaltniss bei den Compositen' 1869 page 92.) The ray-florets, however, are of service in another and very different manner, namely, by folding inwards at night and during cold rainy weather, so as to protect the florets of the disc. (Introduction/8. Kerner clearly shows that this is the case: 'Die Schutzmittel des Pollens' 1873 page 28.) Moreover they often contain matter which is excessively poisonous to insects, as may be seen in the use of flea- powder, and in the case of Pyrethrum, M. Belhomme has shown that the ray-florets are more poisonous than the disc-florets in the ratio of about three to two. We may therefore believe that the ray-florets are useful in protecting the flowers from being gnawed by insects. (Introduction/9. 'Gardener's Chronicle' 1861 page 1067. Lindley 'Vegetable Kingdom' on Chrysanthemum 1853 page 706. Kerner in his interesting essay 'Die Schutzmittel der Bluthen gegen unberufene Gaste' 1875 page 19, insists that the petals of most plants contain matter which is offensive to insects, so that they are seldom gnawed, and thus the organs of fructification are protected. My grandfather in 1790 'Loves of the Plants' canto 3 note to lines 184, 188, remarks that "The flowers or petals of plants are perhaps in general more acrid than their leaves; hence they are much seldomer eaten by insects.")

It is a well-known yet remarkable fact that the circumferential flowers of many of the foregoing plants have both their male and female reproductive organs aborted, as with the Hydrangea, Viburnum and certain Compositae; or the male organs alone are aborted, as in many Compositae. Between the sexless, female and hermaphrodite states of these latter flowers, the finest gradations may be traced, as Hildebrand has shown. (Introduction/10. 'Ueber die Geschlechtsverhaltnisse bei den Compositen' 1869 pages 78-91.) He also shows that there is a close relation between the size of the corolla in the ray- florets and the degree of abortion in their reproductive organs. As we have good reason to believe that these florets are highly serviceable to the plants which possess them, more especially by rendering the flower-heads conspicuous to insects, it is a natural inference that their corollas have been increased in size for this special purpose; and that their development has subsequently led, through the principle of compensation or balancement, to the more or less complete reduction of the reproductive organs. But an opposite view may be maintained, namely, that the reproductive organs first began to fail, as often happens under cultivation, and, as a consequence, the corolla became, through compensation, more highly developed. (Introduction/11. I have discussed this subject in my 'Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication' chapter 18 2nd edition volume 2 pages 152, 156.) This view, however, is not probable, for when hermaphrodite plants become dioecious or gyno-dioecious--that is, are converted into hermaphrodites and females--the corolla of the female seems to be almost invariably reduced in size in consequence of the abortion of the male organs. The difference in the result in these two classes of cases, may perhaps be accounted for by the matter saved through the abortion of the male organs in the females of gyno-dioecious and dioecious plants being directed (as we shall see in a future chapter) to the formation of an increased supply of seeds; whilst in the case of the exterior florets and flowers of the plants which we are here considering, such matter is expended in the development of a conspicuous corolla.

The Different Forms of Flowers on Plants of the Same Species Page 05

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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