Page:Origin of Species 1859 facsimile.djvu/275

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Chap. VIII.
263
CAUSES OF STERILITY.

of crossing distinct species. And as we must look at the curious and complex laws governing the facility with which trees can be grafted on each other as incidental on unknown differences in their vegetative systems, so I believe that the still more complex laws governing the facility of first crosses, are incidental on unknown differences, chiefly in their reproductive systems. These differences, in both cases, follow to a certain extent, as might have been expected, systematic affinity, by which every kind of resemblance and dissimilarity between organic beings is attempted to be expressed. The facts by no means seem to me to indicate that the greater or lesser difficulty of either grafting or crossing together various species has been a special endowment; although in the case of crossing, the difficulty is as important for the endurance and stability of specific forms, as in the case of grafting it is unimportant for their welfare.


Causes of the Sterility of first Crosses and of Hybrids.—We may now look a little closer at the probable causes of the sterility of first crosses and of hybrids. These two cases are fundamentally different, for, as just remarked, in the union of two pure species the male and female sexual elements are perfect, whereas in hybrids they are imperfect. Even in first crosses, the greater or lesser difficulty in effecting a union apparently depends on several distinct causes. There must sometimes be a physical impossibility in the male element reaching the ovule, as would be the case with a plant having a pistil too long for the pollen-tubes to reach the ovarium. It has also been observed that when pollen of one species is placed on the stigma of a distantly allied species, though the pollen-tubes protrude, they do not penetrate the stigmatic surface. Again, the