Page:History of botany (Sachs; Garnsey).djvu/408

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388 History of the Sexual Theory. [BOOK in.

He then refers to his former communications to the Epheme- rides on dioecious plants, and says that the case of the spinach confirmed these results. After alluding to similar relations in animals he continues, ' In the vegetable kingdom no production of seeds, the most perfect gift of nature, the general means for the maintenance of the species, takes place, unless the anthers have prepared beforehand the young plant contained in the seed (nisi praecedanei riorum apices prius ipsam plantam debite praeparaverint). It appears, therefore, justifiable to give these apices a nobler name and to ascribe to them the signifi- cance of male sexual organs, since they are the receptacles in which the seed itself, that is that powder which is the most subtle part of the plant, is secreted and collected, to be after- wards supplied from them. It is equally evident, that the ovary with its style (seminale vasculum cum sua plumula sive stilo) represents the female sexual organ in the plant.' Further on he assents to Aristotle's theory of the mixture of sexes in plants, and adduces Swammerdam's discovery of hermaphroditism in snails, which he says is the exception in animals but the rule in plants. One erroneous notion which was only seen to be erroneous a hundred years later by Konrad Sprengel, and not finally refuted till within the last few years, was his belief that hermaphrodite flowers fertilise themselves, and this by com- parison with the snails he thinks is strange, though most botanists till down to our own times, in spite of Koelreuter and Sprengel, did not find it strange. That sexuality in plants was admitted by botanists, Ray excepted, at the close of the 17th century at most in a figurative sense, but that Camerarius con- ceived of it as in the animal kingdom, and sought to make this conception prevail, is apparent from the strong expressions, which he uses to show that in dioecious plants the distinction between male and female plants is not to be understood figuratively. He says that the new foetus, the young plant contained in the seed, is formed inside the coat of the seed after the plant has flowered, exactly as the new foetus is formed