Page:History of botany (Sachs; Garnsey).djvu/407

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CHAP, i.] Rudolph Jacob Camcmrins. 387

But Camerarius' chief composition on the subject of sexuality in plants is his letter ' De sexu Plantarum,' which is often men- tioned but apparently little read, and which he addressed to Valentin, Professor in Giessen, on Aug. 25, 1694. It is the most elaborate treatise on the subject which had as yet been written, or indeed which appeared before the middle of the 18th century, and contains more profound observations than were made by any other botanist before Koelreuter. The style con- trasts favourably with the style of the writers of the time, and is thoroughly that of modern natural science ; it combines perfect knowledge with careful criticism of the literature of the subject ; the construction of the flower is explained more clearly than it had ever been before, or was again for a long time after, and expressly for the purpose of making the meaning of his experi- ments on sexuality intelligible. The whole tone of the letter shows that Camerarius was deeply impressed with the extra- ordinary importance of the question, and that he was concerned to establish the existence of sexuality by every possible means.

After detailed examination of the parts of the flower, the anthers and pollen, the behaviour of the ovules before and after fertilisation, the phenomena of double flowers and similar matters, from all which he cautiously deduces the meaning of the anthers (apices), he proceeds to bring forward direct proofs. He says, ' In the second division of plants, in which the male flowers are separated from the female on the same plant, I have learnt by two examples the bad effect produced by removing the anthers. When I removed the male flowers (globules) of Ricinus before the anthers had expanded, and prevented the growth of the younger ones but preserved the ovaries that were already formed, I never obtained perfect seeds, but observed empty vessels, which fell finally to the ground exhausted and dried up. In like manner I carefully cut off the stigmas of Mais that were already dependent, in consequence of which the two ears remained entirely without seeds, though the number of abortive husks (vesicularum) was very great.'

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