The Self-Fertilisation of Plants


    MR. THOMAS MEEHAN, one of the most acute and thoughtful of American botanists, has several times during he present year brought before the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences the subject of the fertilisation of plants. He has observed that there are plants with conspicuous and attractive flowers, which are as much adapted to secure self-fertilisation as other flowers are for cross-fertilisation. One of his examples is the green-house annual, Browallia elata, belonging to the order Scrophulariaceæ, having an attractive blue flower. Not only does it produce abundance of perfect seeds without insect aid, but also the entrance of an insect would ensure self-fertilisation. The style is nearly as long as the corolla-tube, and the slightly longer stamens are arranged closely around it. Two of the anthers are inverted over the stigma, and their connective is densely bearded, appearing like petaloid processes, completely closing the tube of the corolla. No insect can thrust its proboscis into the tube except through this mass; and if it has foreign pollen adherent to it, it will be cleaned off by the beard. Furthermore, the very act of penetration will thrust the anthers forward on to the pistil, and aid in rupturing the pollen sacs, and securing self-fertilisation.

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    The Self-Fertilisation of Plants . Nature 14, 475–476 (1876).

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