I am not aware, however, of any instance quite like this of the maize, namely, of a first cross made with difficulty, but yielding perfectly fertile hybrids. (16/14. Mr. Shirreff formerly thought ('Gardener's Chronicle' 1858 page 771) that the offspring from a cross between certain varieties of wheat became sterile in the fourth generation; but he now admits ('Improvement of the Cereals' 1873) that this was an error.)

The following case is much more remarkable, and evidently perplexed Gartner, whose strong wish it was to draw a broad line of distinction between species and varieties. In the genus Verbascum, he made, during eighteen years, a vast number of experiments, and crossed no less than 1085 flowers and counted their seeds. Many of these experiments consisted in crossing white and yellow varieties of both V. lychnitis and V. blattaria with nine other species and their hybrids. That the white and yellow flowered plants of these two species are really varieties, no one has doubted; and Gartner actually raised in the case of both species one variety from the seed of the other. Now in two of his works (16/15. 'Kenntniss der Befruchtung' s. 137; 'Bastarderzeugung' s. 92, 181. On raising the two varieties from seed see s. 307.) he distinctly asserts that crosses between similarly-coloured flowers yield more seed than between dissimilarly-coloured; so that the yellow-flowered variety of either species (and conversely with the white-flowered variety), when crossed with pollen of its own kind, yields more seed than when crossed with that of the white variety; and so it is when differently coloured species are crossed. The general results may be seen in the Table at the end of his volume. In one instance he gives (16/16. 'Bastarderzeugung' s. 216.) the following details; but I must premise that Gartner, to avoid exaggerating the degree of sterility in his crosses, always compares the MAXIMUM number obtained from a cross with the AVERAGE number naturally given by the pure mother-plant. The white variety of V. lychnitis, naturally fertilised by its own pollen, gave from an AVERAGE of twelve capsules ninety-six good seeds in each; whilst twenty flowers fertilised with pollen from the yellow variety of this same species, gave as the MAXIMUM only eighty-nine good seeds; so that we have the proportion of 1000 to 908, according to Gartner's usual scale. I should have thought it possible that so small a difference in fertility might have been accounted for by the evil effects of the necessary castration; but Gartner shows that the white variety of V. lychnitis, when fertilised first by the white variety of V. blattaria, and then by the yellow variety of this species, yielded seed in the proportion of 622 to 438; and in both these cases castration was performed. Now the sterility which results from the crossing of the differently coloured varieties of the same species, is fully as great as that which occurs in many cases when distinct species are crossed. Unfortunately Gartner compared the results of the first unions alone, and not the sterility of the two sets of hybrids produced from the white variety of V. lychnitis when fertilised by the white and yellow varieties of V. blattaria, for it is probable that they would have differed in this respect.

Mr. J. Scott has given me the results of a series of experiments on Verbascum, made by him in the Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh. (16/17. The results have since been published in 'Journ. Asiatic Soc. of Bengal' 1867 page 145.) He repeated some of Gartner's experiments on distinct species, but obtained only fluctuating results, some confirmatory, the greater number contradictory; nevertheless these seem hardly sufficient to overthrow the conclusion arrived at by Gartner from experiments tried on a larger scale. Mr. Scott also experimented on the relative fertility of unions between similarly and dissimilarly-coloured varieties of the same species. Thus he fertilised six flowers of the yellow variety of V. lychnitis by its own pollen, and obtained six capsules; and calling, for the sake of comparison, the average number of good seed in each of their capsules one hundred, he found that this same yellow variety, when fertilised by the white variety, yielded from seven capsules an average of ninety-four seed.

The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication V2 Page 55

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Charles Darwin

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