We see adaptation to the wind in the incoherence of the pollen,--in the inordinate quantity produced (as in the Coniferae, Spinage, etc.),--in the dangling anthers well fitted to shake out the pollen,--in the absence or small size of the perianth,--in the protrusion of the stigmas at the period of fertilisation,--in the flowers being produced before they are hidden by the leaves,--and in the stigmas being downy or plumose (as in the Gramineae, Docks, etc), so as to secure the chance-blown grains. In plants which are fertilised by the wind, the flowers do not secrete nectar, their pollen is too incoherent to be easily collected by insects, they have not bright-coloured corollas to serve as guides, and they are not, as far as I have seen, visited by insects. When insects are the agents of fertilisation (and this is incomparably the more frequent case with hermaphrodite plants), the wind plays no part, but we see an endless number of adaptations to ensure the safe transport of the pollen by the living workers. These adaptations are most easily recognised in irregular flowers; but they are present in regular flowers, of which those of Linum offer a good instance, as I will now endeavour to show.

I have already alluded to the rotation of each separate stigma in the long- styled form of Linum perenne. In both forms of the other heterostyled species and in the homostyled species of Linum which I have seen, the stigmatic surfaces face the centre of the flower, with the furrowed backs of the stigmas, to which the styles are attached, facing outwards. This is the case with the stigmas of the long-styled flowers of L. perenne whilst in bud. But by the time the flowers have expanded, the five stigmas twist round so as to face the circumference, owing to the torsion of that part of the style which lies beneath the stigma. I should state that the five stigmas do not always turn round completely, two or three sometimes facing only obliquely outwards. My observations were made during October; and it is not improbable that earlier in the season the torsion would have been more complete; for after two or three cold and wet days the movement was very imperfectly performed. The flowers should be examined shortly after their expansion, as their duration is brief; as soon as they begin to wither, the styles become spirally twisted all together, the original position of the parts being thus lost.

He who will compare the structure of the whole flower in both forms of L. perenne and grandiflorum, and, as I may add, of L. flavum, will not doubt about the meaning of this torsion of the styles in the one form alone of L. perenne, as well as the meaning of the divergence of the stigmas in the short-styled form of all three species. It is absolutely necessary as we know, that insects should carry pollen from the flowers of the one form reciprocally to those of the other. Insects are attracted by five drops of nectar, secreted exteriorly at the base of the stamens, so that to reach these drops they must insert their proboscides outside the ring of broad filaments, between them and the petals. In the short-styled form of the above three species, the stigmas face the axis of the flower; and had the styles retained their original upright and central position, not only would the stigmas have presented their backs to the insects which sucked the flowers, but their front and fertile surfaces would have been separated from the entering insects by the ring of broad filaments, and would never have received any pollen. As it is, the styles diverge and pass out between the filaments. After this movement the short stigmas lie within the tube of the corolla; and their papillous surfaces being now turned upwards are necessarily brushed by every entering insect, and thus receive the required pollen.

In the long-styled form of L. grandiflorum, the almost parallel or slightly diverging anthers and stigmas project a little above the tube of the somewhat concave flower; and they stand directly over the open space leading to the drops of nectar.

The Different Forms of Flowers on Plants of the Same Species Page 42

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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