Page:History of botany (Sachs; Garnsey).djvu/409

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CHAP, i.] Rudolph Jacob Camerarius. 389

in animals. The authority of the ancients was still great at that time, for Camerarius thinks it necessary to insist that the views of Aristotle, Empedocles, and Theophrastus are not opposed to his sexual theory. Camerarius appears as the true investigator of nature, endowed with the true discerning spirit in disregarding the question which had already been raised with respect to animals, whether the ovum or the sper- matozoid (vermis) produces the foetus, because the first thing to be done was to establish the fact of a sexual difference, not the mode of generation ; he thinks it certainly desirable to examine and see what the pollen-grains contain, how far they penetrate into the female parts, whether they advance uninjured as far as the seed which receives them, or what they discharge if they burst before reaching it. He does full justice to Grew's services in connection with the knowledge of the pollen and its function.

It does all honour to the scientific spirit in Camerarius, that he raises a number of objections to his own theory ; one was, that Lycopods and Equisetaceae produce, as he thinks, no young plants from their pollen ; he suspected therefore that they have no seed. It should be remembered that the germi- nation of Equisetaceae and Lycopods was not observed till the i Qth century. An objection, more important at the time, was that a third ear of a castrated maize plant contained eleven fertile seeds, of whose origin he could give no account. He was even more disturbed by finding that three plants of hemp taken from the field and cultivated in the garden produced fertile seeds, and he tries to explain it by supposing various ways in which pollination might have taken place unobserved. This led him to make a fresh experiment ; next year he placed a pot containing seedlings of hemp in a closed room ; three male and three female plants grew up ; the three male were cut off (not by himself) _before their flowers opened ; the female produced a great number of abortive seeds, but also a good many fruitful ones. His opponents and those who sought to