I could add other experiments; but those now given amply suffice to show that the pollen-grains of a short-styled flower placed on the stigma of a long-styled flower emit a multitude of tubes after an interval of from five to six hours, and penetrate the tissue ultimately to a great depth; and that after twenty-four hours the stigmas thus penetrated change colour, become twisted, and appear half-withered. On the other hand, pollen-grains from a long-styled flower placed on its own stigmas, do not emit their tubes after an interval of a day, or even three days; or at most only three or four grains out of a multitude emit their tubes, and these apparently never penetrate the stigmatic tissue deeply, and the stigmas themselves do not soon become discoloured and twisted.

This seems to me a remarkable physiological fact. The pollen-grains of the two forms are undistinguishable under the microscope; the stigmas differ only in length, degree of divergence, and in the size, shade of colour, and approximation of their papillae, these latter differences being variable and apparently due merely to the degree of elongation of the stigma. Yet we plainly see that the two kinds of pollen and the two stigmas are widely dissimilar in their mutual reaction--the stigmas of each form being almost powerless on their own pollen, but causing, through some mysterious influence, apparently by simple contact (for I could detect no viscid secretion), the pollen-grains of the opposite form to protrude their tubes. It may be said that the two pollens and the two stigmas mutually recognise each other by some means. Taking fertility as the criterion of distinctness, it is no exaggeration to say that the pollen of the long-styled Linum grandiflorum (and conversely that of the other form) has been brought to a degree of differentiation, with respect to its action on the stigma of the same form, corresponding with that existing between the pollen and stigma of species belonging to distinct genera.

Linum perenne.

This species is conspicuously heterostyled, as has been noticed by several authors. The pistil in the long-styled form is nearly twice as long as that of the short-styled. In the latter the stigmas are smaller and, diverging to a greater degree, pass out low down between the filaments. I could detect no difference in the two forms in the size of the stigmatic papillae. In the long- styled form alone the stigmatic surfaces of the mature pistils twist round, so as to face the circumference of the flower; but to this point I shall presently return. Differently from what occurs in L. grandiflorum, the long-styled flowers have stamens hardly more than half the length of those in the short-styled. The size of the pollen-grains is rather variable; after some doubt, I have come to the conclusion that there is no uniform difference between the grains in the two forms. The long-stamens in the short-styled form project to some height above the corolla, and their filaments are coloured blue apparently from exposure to the light. The anthers of the longer stamens correspond in height with the lower part of the stigmas of the long-styled flowers; and the anthers of the shorter stamens of the latter correspond in the same manner in height with the stigmas of the short-styled flowers.

I raised from seed twenty-six plants, of which twelve proved to be long-styled and fourteen short-styled. They flowered well, but were not large plants. As I did not expect them to flower so soon, I did not transplant them, and they unfortunately grew with their branches closely interlocked. All the plants were covered under the same net, excepting one of each form. Of the flowers on the long-styled plants, twelve were illegitimately fertilised with their own-form pollen, taken in every case from a separate plant; and not one set a seed- capsule: twelve other flowers were legitimately fertilised with pollen from short-styled flowers; and they set nine capsules, each including on an average 7 good seeds, ten being the maximum number ever produced.

The Different Forms of Flowers on Plants of the Same Species Page 40

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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

Charles Darwin

All Pages of This Book