The sole effect of mingling two kinds of pollen is to produce in the same capsule seeds which yield plants, some taking after the one and some after the other parent.) So that the sexual capacity of this one variety has certainly been in some degree modified, so as to approach in nature that of N. glutinosa. (16/27. Mr. Scott has made some observations on the absolute sterility of a purple and white primrose (Primula vulgaris) when fertilised by pollen from the common primrose ('Journal of Proc. of Linn. Soc.' volume 8 1864 page 98); but these observations require confirmation. I raised a number of purple-flowered long- styled seedlings from seed kindly sent me by Mr. Scott, and, though they were all in some degree sterile, they were much more fertile with pollen taken from the common primrose than with their own pollen. Mr. Scott has likewise described a red equal-styled cowslip (P. veris ibid page 106), which was found by him to be highly sterile when crossed with the common cowslip; but this was not the case with several equal-styled red seedlings raised by me from his plant. This variety of the cowslip presents the remarkable peculiarity of combining male organs in every respect like those of the short-styled form, with female organs resembling in function and partly in structure those of the long-styled form; so that we have the singular anomaly of the two forms combined in the same flower. Hence it is not surprising that these flowers should be spontaneously self-fertile in a high degree.)

These facts with respect to plants show that in some few cases certain varieties have had their sexual powers so far modified, that they cross together less readily and yield less seed than other varieties of the same species. We shall presently see that the sexual functions of most animals and plants are eminently liable to be affected by the conditions of life to which they are exposed; and hereafter we shall briefly discuss the conjoint bearing of this fact, and others, on the difference in fertility between crossed varieties and crossed species.


This hypothesis was first propounded by Pallas (16/28. 'Act. Acad. St. Petersburg' 1780 part 2 pages 84, 100.), and has been adopted by several authors. I can find hardly any direct facts in its support; but unfortunately no one has compared, in the case of either animals or plants, the fertility of anciently domesticated varieties, when crossed with a distinct species, with that of the wild parent-species when similarly crossed. No one has compared, for instance, the fertility of Gallus bankiva and of the domesticated fowl, when crossed with a distinct species of Gallus or Phasianus; and the experiment would in all cases be surrounded by many difficulties. Dureau de la Malle, who has so closely studied classical literature, states (16/29. 'Annales des Sc. Nat.' tome 21 1st series page 61.) that in the time of the Romans the common mule was produced with more difficulty than at the present day; but whether this statement may be trusted I know not. A much more important, though somewhat different, case is given by M. Groenland (16/30. 'Bull. Bot. Soc. de France' December 27, 1861 tome 8 page 612.), namely, that plants, known from their intermediate character and sterility to be hybrids between Aegilops and wheat, have perpetuated themselves under culture since 1857, WITH A RAPID BUT VARYING INCREASE OF FERTILITY IN EACH GENERATION. In the fourth generation the plants, still retaining their intermediate character, had become as fertile as common cultivated wheat.

The indirect evidence in favour of the Pallasian doctrine appears to me to be extremely strong. In the earlier chapters I have shown that our various breeds of the dog are descended from several wild species; and this probably is the case with sheep. There can be no doubt that the Zebu or humped Indian ox belongs to a distinct species from European cattle: the latter, moreover, are descended from two forms, which may be called either species or races.

The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication V2 Page 58

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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