Vandellia nummularifolia.

Seeds were sent to me by Mr. J. Scott from Calcutta of this small Indian weed, which bears perfect and cleistogene flowers. (3/10. The convenient term of CLEISTOGENE was proposed by Kuhn in an article on the present genus in 'Bot. Zeitung' 1867 page 65.) The latter are extremely small, imperfectly developed, and never expand, yet yield plenty of seeds. The perfect and open flowers are also small, of a white colour with purple marks; they generally produce seed, although the contrary has been asserted; and they do so even if protected from insects. They have a rather complicated structure, and appear to be adapted for cross-fertilisation, but were not carefully examined by me. They are not easy to fertilise artificially, and it is possible that some of the flowers which I thought that I had succeeded in crossing were afterwards spontaneously self-fertilised under the net. Sixteen capsules from the crossed perfect flowers contained on an average ninety-three seeds (with a maximum in one capsule of 137), and thirteen capsules from the self-fertilised perfect flowers contained sixty-two seeds (with a maximum in one capsule of 135); or as 100 to 67. But I suspect that this considerable excess was accidental, as on one occasion nine crossed capsules were compared with seven self-fertilised capsules (both included in the above number), and they contained almost exactly the same average number of seed. I may add that fifteen capsules from self-fertilised cleistogene flowers contained on an average sixty-four seeds, with a maximum in one of eighty-seven.

Crossed and self-fertilised seeds from the perfect flowers, and other seeds from the self-fertilised cleistogene flowers, were sown in five pots, each divided superficially into three compartments. The seedlings were thinned at an early age, so that twenty plants were left in each of the three divisions. The crossed plants when in full flower averaged 4.3 inches, and the self-fertilised plants from the perfect flowers 4.27 inches in height; or as 100 to 99. The self-fertilised plants from the cleistogene flowers averaged 4.06 inches in height; so that the crossed were in height to these latter plants as 100 to 94.

I determined to compare again the growth of plants raised from crossed and self-fertilised perfect flowers, and obtained two fresh lots of seeds. These were sown on opposite sides of five pots, but they were not sufficiently thinned, so that they grew rather crowded. When fully grown, all those above 2 inches in height were selected, all below this standard being rejected; the former consisted of forty-seven crossed and forty-one self-fertilised plants; thus a greater number of the crossed than of the self-fertilised plants grew to a height of above 2 inches. Of the crossed plants, the twenty-four tallest were on an average 3.6 inches in height; whilst the twenty-four tallest self-fertilised plants were 3.38 inches in average height; or as 100 to 94. All these plants were then cut down close to the ground, and the forty-seven crossed plants weighed 1090.3 grains, and the forty-one self-fertilised plants weighed 887.4 grains. Therefore an equal number of crossed and self-fertilised would have been to each other in weight as 100 to 97. From these several facts we may conclude that the crossed plants had some real, though very slight, advantage in height and weight over the self-fertilised plants, when grown in competition with one another.

The crossed plants were, however, inferior in fertility to the self-fertilised. Six of the finest plants were selected out of the forty-seven crossed plants, and six out of the forty-one self-fertilised plants; and the former produced 598 capsules, whilst the latter or self-fertilised plants produced 752 capsules. All these capsules were the product of cleistogene flowers, for the plants did not bear during the whole of this season any perfect flowers. The seeds were counted in ten cleistogene capsules produced by crossed plants, and their average number was 46.4 per capsule; whilst the number in ten cleistogene capsules produced by the self-fertilised plants was 49.4; or as 100 to 106.

The Effects of Cross and Self-Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdom Page 46

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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