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08 - Hybridism 08-04 - Sterility not a special endowment, but incidental on other differences 10 The foregoing rules and facts, on the other hand, appear to me clearly to indicate that the sterility both of first crosses and of hybrids is simply incidental or dependent on unknown differences, chiefly in the reproductive systems, of the species which are crossed.

The differences being of so peculiar and limited a nature, that, in reciprocal crosses between two species the male sexual element of the one will often freely act on the female sexual element of the other, but not in a reversed direction.

It will be advisable to explain a little more fully by an example what I mean by sterility being incidental on other differences, and not a specially endowed quality.

As the capacity of one plant to be grafted or budded on another is so entirely unimportant for its welfare in a state of nature, I presume that no one will suppose that this capacity is a specially endowed quality, but will admit that it is incidental on differences in the laws of growth of the two plants.

We can sometimes see the reason why one tree will not take on another, from differences in their rate of growth, in the hardness of their wood, in the period of the flow or nature of their sap, &c.; but in a multitude of cases we can assign no reason whatever.

sap
sap


Great diversity in the size of two plants, one being woody and the other herbaceous, one being evergreen and the other deciduous, and adaptation to widely different climates, does not always prevent the two grafting together.

As in hybridisation, so with grafting, the capacity is limited by systematic affinity, for no one has been able to graft trees together belonging to quite distinct families; and, on the other hand, closely allied species, and varieties of the same species, can usually, but not invariably, be grafted with ease.

graft
graft


But this capacity, as in hybridisation, is by no means absolutely governed by systematic affinity.

Although many distinct genera within the same family have been grafted together, in other cases species of the same genus will not take on each other.

The pear can be grafted far more readily on the quince, which is ranked as a distinct genus, than on the apple, which is a member of the same genus.

pear
pear

quince
quince

apple
apple


Even different varieties of the pear take with different degrees of facility on the quince; so do different varieties of the apricot and peach on certain varieties of the plum.

apricot
apricot

peach
peach

plum
plum


As Gaertner found that there was sometimes an innate difference in different individuals of the same two species in crossing; so Sagaret believes this to be the case with different individuals of the same two species in being grafted together.

As in reciprocal crosses, the facility of effecting an union is often very far from equal, so it sometimes is in grafting; the common gooseberry, for instance, cannot be grafted on the currant, whereas the currant will take, though with difficulty, on the gooseberry.

gooseberry
gooseberry

Black Currant
Black Currant

Red Currant
Red Currant


We have seen that the sterility of hybrids, which have their reproductive organs in an imperfect condition, is a very different case from the difficulty of uniting two pure species, which have their reproductive organs perfect; yet these two distinct cases run to a certain extent parallel.

Something analogous occurs in grafting; for Thouin found that three species of Robinia, which seeded freely on their own roots, and which could be grafted with no great difficulty on another species, when thus grafted were rendered barren.

robinia
robinia


On the other hand, certain species of Sorbus, when grafted on other species, yielded twice as much fruit as when on their own roots.

sorbus
sorbus


We are reminded by this latter fact of the extraordinary case of Hippeastrum, Lobelia, &c., which seeded much more freely when fertilised with the pollen of distinct species, than when self-fertilised with their own pollen.

hippeastrum
hippeastrum

lobelia
lobelia


We thus see, that although there is a clear and fundamental difference between the mere adhesion of grafted stocks, and the union of the male and female elements in the act of reproduction, yet that there is a rude degree of parallelism in the results of grafting and 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.