In 1861 the trial was made in a fuller and fairer manner. A number of wild plants had been transplanted during the previous autumn into a large bed in my garden, and all were treated alike; the result was:--
Column 1: Plant. Column 2: Number of Plants. Column 3: Number of Umbels. Column 4: Weight of Seed in grains.
Short-styled cowslips : 47 : 173 : 745. Long-styled cowslips : 58 : 208 : 692.
These figures give us the following proportions:--
Column 1: Plant. Column 2: Number of Plants. Column 3: Weight of Seed in grains. ... Column 4: Number of Umbels. Column 5: Weight of Seed in grains.
Short-styled cowslips : 100 : 1585 :: 100 : 430. Long-styled cowslips : 100 : 1093 :: 100 : 332.
The season was much more favourable this year than the last; the plants also now grew in good soil, instead of in a shady wood or struggling with other plants in the open field; consequently the actual produce of seed was considerably larger. Nevertheless we have the same relative result; for the short-styled plants produced more seed than the long-styled in nearly the proportion of three to two; but if we take the fairest standard of comparison, namely, the product of seeds from an equal number of umbels, the excess is, as in the former case, nearly as four to three.
Looking to these trials made during two successive years on a large number of plants, we may safely conclude that the short-styled form is more productive than the long-styled form, and the same result holds good with some other species of Primula. Consequently my anticipation that the plants with longer pistils, rougher stigmas, shorter stamens and smaller pollen-grains, would prove to be more feminine in nature, is exactly the reverse of the truth.
In 1860 a few umbels on some plants of both the long-styled and short-styled form, which had been covered by a net, did not produce any seed, though other umbels on the same plants, artificially fertilised, produced an abundance of seed; and this fact shows that the mere covering in itself was not injurious. Accordingly, in 1861, several plants were similarly covered just before they expanded their flowers; these turned out as follows:--
Column 1: Plant. Column 2: Number of Plants. Column 3: Number of Umbels produced. Column 4: Product of Seed.
Short-styled : 6 : 24 : 1.3 grain weight of seed, or about 50 in number. Long-styled : 18 : 74 : Not one seed.
Judging from the exposed plants which grew all round in the same bed, and had been treated in the same manner, excepting that they had been exposed to the visits of insects, the above six short-styled plants ought to have produced 92 grains' weight of seed instead of only 1.3; and the eighteen long-styled plants, which produced not one seed, ought to have produced above 200 grains' weight. The production of a few seeds by the short-styled plants was probably due to the action of Thrips or of some other minute insect. It is scarcely necessary to give any additional evidence, but I may add that ten pots of Polyanthuses and cowslips of both forms, protected from insects in my greenhouse, did not set one pod, though artificially fertilised flowers in other pots produced an abundance. We thus see that the visits of insects are absolutely necessary for the fertilisation of Primula veris. If the corolla of the long-styled form had dropped off, instead of remaining attached in a withered state to the ovarium, the anthers attached to the lower part of the tube with some pollen still adhering to them would have been dragged over the stigma, and the flowers would have been partially self-fertilised, as is the case with Primula Sinensis through this means. It is a rather curious fact that so trifling a difference as the falling-off of the withered corolla, should make a very great difference in the number of seeds produced by a plant if its flowers are not visited by insects.
The flowers of the cowslip and of the other species of the genus secrete plenty of nectar; and I have often seen humble bees, especially B.