Gives details of some crossing experiments with Eschscholzia.
Describes the grass Streptochaeta, which FM believes to be a primitive grass.
Relates some observations on maize that are well explained by Pangenesis.
January 12. 1869.
My dear Sir
As the Eschscholzia-seed, which I formerly sent you, has not germinated, I send you some fresh seeds from my plants, which this summer again have proved self-impotent.
The plants raised from your seeds have suffered so much from the extraordinary heat and the heavy thunderstorm, which in November followed after an extremely rainy winter and spring, that I could make but very few experiments. Only four plants escaped and three of these flowered tolerably well. My own plants, which were introduced here about six years ago, suffered but little from the weather and none has perished.—
Here are the experiments, I tried on the Eschscholzia raised from your seeds:
1.) Octbr. 23. A flower fertilized with its own pollen.
Novbr. 15. Germen, 12
2) Novbr. 3. Fertilized two flowers, one (a) with pollen from a distinct flower of the plant, the other (b) with pollen from a distinct plant.
Novbr. 5. Stigmas of the flower (a) fresh, those of (b) withering
Novbr. 9 Germen of (a) 12
Novbr. 11 —— 19
Novbr. 15 —— 30
Novbr. 30. Fruits ripe; the pod (a) 32
3) Novbr. 9 Repeated the same experiment.
Novbr. 10 Stigmas of (a) fresh, those of (b) withering.
Novbr. 15 Germen of (a) 11
Novbr. 18. — — 12
The pod (a) fell
off unripe; the pod (b), 53
1.) Novbr. 1. Fertilized two flowers with each other's pollen.
Novbr. 2. Stigmas withering, having remained in a horizontal position in one of the flowers, while the had become [exerted] in the other.
Novbr. 9. Germens 16
Novbr. 11. — — 17
Novbr. 15. The smaller germen withered, the larger 53
Novbr. 30. Pod ripe, 56
2.) Novbr. 19, midday. Fertilized one flower (a) with pollen from a distinct flower of the plant; a second flower (b) with pollen from a distinct plant; a third flower (c) simply protected from insects.
Novbr. 22. Germens of (a) and (c) 10
Novbr. 27. Germen of (a) 40
Novbr. 30. Germen of (a) 40
Decbr. 13. The pod (b) ripe, 45
3.) Novbr. 25. Fertilized two flowers (a, b) with pollen from distinct flowers of the plants, and one flower (c) with pollen from a distinct plant.
Novbr. 30. Germen of (a) not increased, (b) 10
Decbr. 6. Germen (a) and (b) withered; (c) 40
Decrb. 17. Germen (c) putrified.
A third plant, all the germens of which withered or putrified, showed the same difference in the growth of the germens fertilized with the same plants and a distinct plant's pollen: The experiments ought to be repeated on a larger scale and on healthy plants.
I have lately met with a most curious grass, the Streptochæta Nees.
The rhachis of the simple ear is prolonged beyond the last floret and its
extremity is club-shaped and densely covered by strangely curled short,
stiff hairs. Each floret has an extremely long barb, which adheres to the
club-shaped extremity of the rhachis and then contracts spirally in
reversed directions, just as a tendril would do after having caught a
support. This is effected long before the ear begins to peep out from the
enclosing leaves. When the seeds are ripe, the florets hang down, by
means of their tendril-like barbs, from the tip of the rhachis,—probably
till they are carried away and disseminated by some passing-by animal.
It is curious that a contrivance for dissemination sh
Our Brazilian cuckoos, according to Burmeister, agree in their habits
with the North-american species; but we have here another bird, not
belonging to the cuckoo-family, which, like the European cuckoo, lays
all her eggs, as far as I can make out, in other birds' nests. In the nests
of the Tico-tico (Zonotrichia matutina Gray) and other small birds a
white egg, about 24
On an ear of maize I found, last year, six dirty bluish-grey grains, the rest being pale-yellow. I sowed separately the bluish and the yellow grains; on 30 pale-yellow ears, from the yellow seeds. There were but 5 bluish grains and 4 were spotted with violet. On 3 pale-yellow ears, from the bluish seeds, there were 581 pale-yellow and white, 193 bluish grains and 78 of mixed colours (yellow with bluish ring, or spotted with violet, or dark bluish-grey with a white central spot ec.)— 9 ears from the yellow and one from the bluish seed had reverted to the colour of their grandmother which had dark brown grains. Gaertner, as you know, obtained similar results (Bastarderzeugung pg. 322): On the hypothesis of Pangenesis the fact might be explained by assuming, that in the seeds of each individual flower the gemmulæ derived from this flower are more numerous than those from any other flower of the plant, and that therefore in the offspring flowers of the same kind are more numerous, than in the mother-plant.— Do you think, that this will hold good as a general rule? I intend to try some experiments on plants which bear at the same time flowers with 4, with 5 and with 6 petals.—
With sincere respect | very faithfully yours | Fritz Müller.
- f1 6549.f1Müller first discussed the self-sterility of Eschscholzia californica (the California poppy) in a letter of 2 August 1866 (Correspondence vol. 14). No earlier letter from Müller mentioning enclosed seeds of E. californica has been found.
- f2 6549.f2CD had twice sent Müller seeds of Eschscholzia californica in 1868 (see Correspondence vol. 16, letters from Fritz Müller, 22 April 1868 and 17 June 1868).
- f3 6549.f3The grass is now Streptochaeta Schrader ex Nees (Mabberley 1997).
- f4 6549.f4Stephan Endlicher described the plant as `Gramen brasiliense, admodum paradoxum' (Brazilian grass, very strange; Endlicher 1836--42, p. 103).
- f5 6549.f5Most grasses have a reduced number of stamens and stigmas (three and two respectively is typical) compared with other monocotyledons, and lack the outer whorl (a complete flower has four whorls: pistil, stamens, corolla, and calyx). For more on the floral structure of Streptochaeta in its evolutionary context, see Rudall and Bateman 2004, pp. 32--4, and Rudall et al. 2005, p. 1437. Müller also refers to the genera Lepidosiren (lungfishes; at this time all lungfishes were placed in this genus, which is now restricted to the South American lungfish; see Pauly 2004, pp. 130--2) and Ornithorhynchus (the duck-billed platypus). In the nineteenth century, the former genus was often seen as a link between fish and reptiles, the latter as a link between birds and mammals.
- f6 6549.f6For Karl Hermann Konrad Burmeister's description of the nesting habits of Brazilian cuckoos, see Burmeister 1854--6, 2: 251--2.
- f7 6549.f7Zonotrichia matutina is now considered to be a subspecies of Z. capensis (the rufous-collared sparrow; tico-tico is the Portuguese common name).
- f8 6549.f8Trupialis is now Sturnella; this genus does not include nest parasites, but like Zonotrichia matutina is itself parasitised by Molothrus bonariensis (the shiny cowbird).
- f9 6549.f9Karl Friedrich von Gärtner reported his experimental results on Zea mays in Versuche und Beobachtungen über die Bastarderzeugung im Pflanzenreich (Experiments and observations on hybridisation in the plant kingdom; Gärtner 1849, pp. 322--7; for CD's annotations to his copy, see Marginalia 1: 256--98).
- f10 6549.f10For CD's hypothesis of pangenesis, see Variation 2: 357--404. CD had theorised that a certain number of gemmules (heritable units) were required for the development of each cell or part and that the diffusion of gemmules was not homogeneous (see Variation 2: 375 n. 29, and 379--81).
- f11 6549.f11CD refers to Eschscholzia crocea, now considered to be a synonym of E. californica, and to John Cattell, a nurseyman based in Westerham, Kent (Post Office directory of the six home counties, 1859--66).
- f12 6549.f12CD refers to Mûller's observations on maize (see above, n. 10).