Page:Origin of Species 1859 facsimile.djvu/259

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Chap. VIII.
247
STERILITY.

unhesitatingly ranks them as varieties. Gärtner, also, makes the rule equally universal; and he disputes the entire fertility of Kölreuter's ten cases. But in these and in many other cases, Gärtner is obliged carefully to count the seeds, in order to show that there is any degree of sterility. He always compares the maximum number of seeds produced by two species when crossed and by their hybrid offspring, with the average number produced by both pure parent-species in a state of nature. But a serious cause of error seems to me to be here introduced: a plant to be hybridised must be castrated, and, what is often more important, must be secluded in order to prevent pollen being brought to it by insects from other plants. Nearly all the plants experimentised on by Gärtner were potted, and apparently were kept in a chamber in his house. That these processes are often injurious to the fertility of a plant cannot be doubted; for Gärtner gives in his table about a score of cases of plants which he castrated, and artificially fertilised with their own pollen, and (excluding all cases such as the Leguminosæ, in which there is an acknowledged difficulty in the manipulation) half of these twenty plants had their fertility in some degree impaired. Moreover, as Gärtner during several years repeatedly crossed the primrose and cowslip, which we have such good reason to believe to be varieties, and only once or twice succeeded in getting fertile seed; as he found the common red and blue pimpernels (Anagallis arvensis and cœrulea), which the best botanists rank as varieties, absolutely sterile together; and as he came to the same concluson in several other analogous cases; it seems to me that we may well be permitted to doubt whether many other species are really so sterile, when intercrossed, as Gärtner believes.