Self-Fertilisation in Flowers

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DR. MÜLLER (NATURE, vol. xiv. p. 571) and Prof. Asa Gray (vol. xv. p. 24) reflect on your abstract of my verbal remarks (vol. xiv. p. 475) on Browallia in a way not particularly complimentary to me. Prof. Gray admits having read the full report, and yet fails to notice that “February 8,” is there given as the date of my remarks. Had he not overlooked this, he would not have wondered that I did not see “Hymenoptera and Lepidoptera of various sorts” visiting them. As reported in the Proceedings of the Society, I exhibited fresh specimens in fruit at the meeting of that date, which is about mid-winter with us, when these insects are at rest. The plants were of course grown under glass, and when I say “Browallia is not visited by insects, yet seeds abundantly,” I am referring naturally to the experience I am describing. If one be justified in taking an unguarded expression, or even a whole sentence, without any regard to the subject matter of its connection, we might have as many “theories” in science as there are sects in religion, all founded on isolated “texts” in Scripture. It is remarkable that in a paper in which Prof. Gray is commenting on hasty observations, in another he should have overlooked a fact like this. I do not say Browallia is never visited by insects, but I do say that they do not visit them under such circumstances as I was describing.

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MEEHAM, T. Self-Fertilisation in Flowers. Nature 15, 138 (1876) doi:10.1038/015138a0

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