hirsuta yielded capsules containing on an average no less than 56 seeds; and the short-styled P. auricula by pollen of the short- styled P. hirsuta yielded capsules containing on an average 42 seeds per capsule. So that out of the eight possible unions between the two forms of these two species, six were utterly barren, and two fairly fertile. We have seen also the same sort of extraordinary irregularity in the results of my twenty different crosses (Tables 2.14 to 2.18), between the two forms of the oxlip, primrose, and cowslip. Mr. Scott remarks, with respect to the results of his trials, that they are very surprising, as they show us that "the sexual forms of a species manifest in their respective powers for conjunction with those of another species, physiological peculiarities which might well entitle them, by the criterion of fertility, to specific distinction."

Finally, although P. veris and vulgaris, when crossed legitimately, and especially when their hybrid offspring are crossed in this manner with both parent-species, were decidedly more fertile, than when crossed in an illegitimate manner, and although the legitimate cross effected by Mr. Scott between P. auricula and hirsuta was more fertile, in the ratio of 56 to 42, than the illegitimate cross, nevertheless it is very doubtful, from the extreme irregularity of the results in the various other hybrid crosses made by Mr. Scott, whether it can be predicted that two heterostyled species are generally more fertile if crossed legitimately (i.e. when opposite forms are united) than when crossed illegitimately.


In an early part of this chapter I remarked that few other instances could be given of a hybrid spontaneously arising in such large numbers, and over so wide an extent of country, as that of the common oxlip; but perhaps the number of well-ascertained cases of naturally produced hybrid willows is equally great. (2/19. Max Wichura 'Die Bastardbefruchtung etc. der Weiden' 1865.) Numerous spontaneous hybrids between several species of Cistus, found near Narbonne, have been carefully described by M. Timbal-Lagrave (2/20. 'Mem. de l'Acad. des Sciences de Toulouse' 5e serie tome 5 page 28.), and many hybrids between an Aceras and Orchis have been observed by Dr. Weddell. (2/21. 'Annales des Sc. Nat.' 3e serie Bot. tome 18 page 6.) In the genus Verbascum, hybrids are supposed to have often originated in a state of nature (2/22. See for instance the 'English Flora' by Sir J.E. Smith 1824 volume 1 page 307.); some of these undoubtedly are hybrids, and several hybrids have originated in gardens; but most of these cases require, as Gartner remarks, verification. (2/23. See Gartner 'Bastarderzeugung' 1849 page 590.) Hence the following case is worth recording, more especially as the two species in question, V. thapsus and lychnitis, are perfectly fertile when insects are excluded, showing that the stigma of each flower receives its own pollen. Moreover the flowers offer only pollen to insects, and have not been rendered attractive to them by secreting nectar.

I transplanted a young wild plant into my garden for experimental purposes, and when it flowered it plainly differed from the two species just mentioned and from a third which grows in this neighbourhood. I thought that it was a strange variety of V. thapsus. It attained the height (by measurement) of 8 feet! It was covered with a net, and ten flowers were fertilised with pollen from the same plant; later in the season, when uncovered, the flowers were freely visited by pollen-collecting bees; nevertheless, although many capsules were produced, not one contained a single seed. During the following year this same plant was left uncovered near plants of V. thapsus and lychnitis; but again it did not produce a single seed. Four flowers, however, which were repeatedly fertilised with pollen of V. lychnitis, whilst the plant was temporarily kept under a net, produced four capsules, which contained five, one, two, and two seeds; at the same time three flowers were fertilised with pollen of V.

Charles Darwin

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