This case formerly appeared to me an extraordinary one; but I am now inclined to believe that it is one merely of great variability. (3/10. Planchon in Hooker's 'London Journal of Botany' 1848 volume 7 page 175. See on this subject Asa Gray in 'American Journal of Science' volume 36 September 1863 page 284.)
Hildebrand has published a full account of this heterostyled plant. (3/11. 'Botanische Zeitung' 1865 January 13 page 13.) The pistil of the long-styled form is twice as long as that of the short-styled; and the stamens differ in a corresponding, though converse, manner. There is no marked difference in the shape or state of surface of the stigma in the two forms. The pollen-grains of the short-styled form are to those of the long-styled as 9 to 7, or as 100 to 78, in length, and as 7 to 6 in breadth. They do not differ in the appearance of their contents. The corolla of the one form differs in shape from that of the other in nearly the same manner as in Primula; but besides this difference the flowers of the short-styled are generally the larger of the two. Hildebrand collected on the Siebengebirge, ten wild long-styled and ten short-styled plants. The former bore 289 flowers, of which 186 (i.e. 64 per cent) had set fruit, yielding 1.88 seed per fruit. The ten short-styled plants bore 373 flowers, of which 262 (i.e. 70 per cent) had set fruit, yielding 1.86 seed per fruit. So that the short-styled plants produced many more flowers, and these set a rather larger proportion of fruit, but the fruits themselves yielded a slightly lower average number of seeds than did the long-styled plants. The results of Hildebrand's experiments on the fertility of the two forms are given in Table 3.19.
TABLE 3.19. Pulmonaria officinalis (from Hildebrand).
Column 1: Nature of the Union. Column 2: Number of Flowers fertilised. Column 3: Number of Fruits produced. Column 4: Average Number of Seeds per Fruit.
Long-styled by pollen of short-styled. Legitimate union : 14 : 10 : 1.30.
Long-styled 14 by own-pollen, and 16 by pollen of other plant of same form. Illegitimate union : 30 : 0 : 0.
Short-styled by pollen of long-styled. Legitimate union: 16 : 14 : 1.57.
Short-styled 11 by own-pollen, 14 by pollen of other plant of same form. Illegitimate union : 25 : 0 : 0.
In the summer of 1864, before I had heard of Hildebrand's experiments, I noticed some long-styled plants of this species (named for me by Dr. Hooker) growing by themselves in a garden in Surrey; and to my surprise about half the flowers had set fruit, several of which contained 2, and one contained even 3 seeds. These seeds were sown in my garden and eleven seedlings thus raised, all of which proved long-styled, in accordance with the usual rule in such cases. Two years afterwards the plants were left uncovered, no other plant of the same genus growing in my garden, and the flowers were visited by many bees. They set an abundance of seeds: for instance, I gathered from a single plant rather less than half of the seeds which it had produced, and they numbered 47. Therefore this illegitimately fertilised plant must have produced about 100 seeds; that is, thrice as many as one of the wild long-styled plants collected on the Siebengebirge by Hildebrand, and which, no doubt, had been legitimately fertilised. In the following year one of my plants was covered by a net, and even under these unfavourable conditions it produced spontaneously a few seeds. It should be observed that as the flowers stand either almost horizontally or hang considerably downwards, pollen from the short stamens would be likely to fall on the stigma. We thus see that the English long-styled plants when illegitimately fertilised were highly fertile, whilst the German plants similarly treated by Hildebrand were completely sterile. How to account for this wide discordance in our results I know not. Hildebrand cultivated his plants in pots and kept them for a time in the house, whilst mine were grown out of doors; and he thinks that this difference of treatment may have caused the difference in our results.