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Handbuch der allgemeinen Botanik

Nature volume 23, pages 142143 | Download Citation



THIS is the second instalment of a work by a single author which is to treat of all the different departments of botanical science. The first volume, which is devoted to the consideration of the Physiology and General Anatomy of Plants, was reviewed in NATURE, vol. xxi. p. 589. It is impossible to pass a more favourable verdict upon this volume than upon its predecessor. It is characterised by the same failing, namely, a want of clearness and definiteness in the statement of important facts and fundamental principles. The first section of the book is devoted to a discussion of the theory of descent, the origin of species, and the occurrence of varieties and monstrosities, with the object, presumably, of making the reader acquainted with some, at least, of the influences which determine the forms of living organisms. The account of the morphology of plants begins at p. 38, and after ten pages of general considerations the subject is actually grappled with. Prof. Müller commences with the Thallophytes, though he does not call them so, for his first section on them is headed “Der Algenstamm.” It is not easy to understand what he means by the suffix “stamm”; does he mean to describe the thallus of the Alga as being a “stem,” or does he use the word in the sense of “tribe”? Whichever be the true interpretation, it still remains unexplained why this word should appear as the heading of a section which treats not only of Algæ, but of Fungi as well. The prospectus of the work sets forth that the Classification of Plants is to form the subject of a subsequent volume, and there is therefore some hope that Prof. Müller will there give a classification of the Algæ which is more in accordance with facts and with reason than the one which he now follows. It is impossible to imagine on what grounds the Palmelles, the Protococcse, and the Volvocineae should be united together to form the Order Palmellacese, and yet this is done on p. 51 of this work, although the author is evidently aware of the fact that in Volvox reproduction is effected by means of sexually produced oospores, as his account of that plant, a singularly inaccurate one be it said, on p. 62 testifies.

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