The Gardeners' Chronicle (March 8, 1884) p. 307
E. Bonavia, M.D., Etawah
I COMMENCED crossing the Amaryllis in 1875, but having to leave Lucknow this work was continued by Mr. Ridley. In January, 1882, he kindly sent me some bulbs, descendants of my original hybrids. With these bulbs I hope now to make a fresh start, and branch oft, if possible, into new colours and forms.
In the course of my experiments in 1882-1883 I elicited some facts which may not be uninteresting to the students of scientific horticulture.
Ten Amaryllis flowers, in different plants, were tried by self fertilisation, but all failed.
In 1882 one named Fiesole refused to cross, either with its pistil or with its pollen, and so did several others; while, on the contrary, two others, named Carina and Graziosa, took almost any kind of pollen. The former had seventeen blooms on three scapes in one pot, and almost all set seed so that from this plant alone I have now upwards of 500 seedlings.
In 1882 I crossed promiscuously to obtain a number of plants to work upon, and only kept a record of the name of the female parent.
In 1883 I crossed more carefully, and ticketed every flower with the name of the pollen-bearing plant. Fiesole, again, had nine of its pistils tried with the pollen of eight different kinds, and all, as before, failed. Its pollen also failed to fertilise five different kinds of pistils.
From these experiments it appears that the following provisional conclusions may be drawn, viz., that the Amaryllis is incapable of self-fertilisation; that, crossed in-and-in, which I shall call high-breeding, they have a tendency to produce mules, which will, as a rule, not cross among themselves, but may cross with their original ancestors, or perhaps with common kinds, with which they have no blood ties.
Mr. Ridley, in a letter written the year before last, informed me that the highly-bred ones in Lucknow did not seed. He attributed this to the rough crossing of the native gardeners. He added that the common kinds, which were intermixed with the others, produced seed without being artificially fertilised. I take it that the pistils of the common ones were so sensitive, that the pollen of the others carried by the wind, or insects, readily fertilised them.
Mr. Barron, in his book on the Vine, if I remember rightly, stated that he found highly-bred Vines crossed with wild or common kinds gave more vigorous and better results, than when crossed with other highly-bred varieties.
In my experiments I found that some highly-bred Amaryllis were all but barren, when tried with other highly-bred kinds; but crossed readily with a common kind. In 1882 I had three bulbs of a common pale orange expanded Amaryllis; they had no merit, either of colour or form. I was going to put them aside, as worthless; one day, however, I thought, by way of experiment, I would try them with the pollen of the highly-bred kinds, and, to my astonishment, every pistil was fertilised and produced a full capsule. The following was the result
|x Dilfarèb, 53 seeds—28 germinated, 8 perished.
x Radha, 52 seeds—16 germinated, 3 perished.
x Fiesole, 38 seeds—26 germinated, 1 perished.
|x Bonavia, 54 seeds—38 germinated, 5 perished.
x Dilfarèb, 70 seeds—43 germinated, 8 perished.
x Radha, 31 seeds—18 germinated, 3 perished.
|x Dilfarèb, 42 seeds—2 germinated and lived.
x Fiesole, 19 seeds—3 germinated and lived.
It will be seen that even Fiesole, so refractory when tried in every way during two seasons, fertilised this common kind, and although only nine seeds germinated, for Fiesole this is a wonder.
Of course there are exceptions to every rule, and Carina and Graziosa, although highly bred, may be such. While, on the one hand, there may be utter barrenness of pistil and pollen, there may be, on the other, complete sensitiveness to foreign pollen, as in Carina. No doubt there may be also intermediate stages.
I should say, if one wishes to propagate by seed some fine character of a highly-bred Amaryllis, he is more likely to obtain viable seed by crossing it with one of the original wild ones, or with one but slightly removed therefrom, using the latter as seed-bearers. Of course, where one has already found, by experiment, that a highly-bred individual is prolific, the case is different, and the knowledge thus obtained is very useful. E Bonavia, M.D., Etawah. (To be continued.)
The Gardeners' Chronicle (March 8, 1884) p. 347
E. Bonavia, M.D., Etawah
(Concluded from p. 307.)
I WOULD now ask the following questions:—
(a) Is it a good or a bad practice to attempt to fertilise a pistil with more than one kind of pollen?
The following facts will, perhaps, give some answer to the above question :—
1. It is evident that in a state of Nature promiscuous fertilisation of some flowers appears to be the law. There is no provision in the Amaryllis for preventing a moth or other insect from carrying pollen to a pistil which had already come in contact with another kind of pollen, unless it be the closing of the petals over the pistil, after fertilisation. This, however, is insufficient. There is no way of preventing different kinds of pollen being carried to a stigma before fertilisation actually occurs, and the subsequent closing of the petals. In fact, a moth, visiting flower after flower, cannot help taking to an unfertilised pistil a mixture of pollen grains at one and the same time.
2. In 1875 I crossed promiscuously, that is, I applied on the same pistil, at different times, the pollen of a number of varieties, sometimes more than half-a-dozen. The result was satisfactory, both as regards quantity of seed, and germinating power. As to flower, some wonderful novelties were produced.
3. In 1882 I did the same thing, and the result, as to number of seeds and germinating power, was equally satisfactory. As to flower, however, I am not yet able to judge.
4. In 1883 I acted differently, that is, I applied one kind of pollen only to each pistil, selecting, as a rule, those varieties the qualities of which I wished to combine. The result was a failure, as the following list will show:—
|Padshah x Dilfarèb||11 seeds||1 germinated and perished|
|Sita x Acramanni||11||1 germinated and perished|
|Lucy x Hazari||11||1 germinated and perished|
|S. Marco x seedling vittata||uncounted||1 germinated and perished|
|S. Marco x seedling vittata||uncounted||None germinated|
|Bonavia x Lucy||10 seeds||None germinated|
|S. Marco x Sita||23||None germinated|
|Pinkedge x Dilfarèb||10||None germinated|
|Isabella x Padshah||9||None germinated|
|Isabella x Sita||8||None germinated|
|Alma x Bonavia||2||None germinated|
|Alma x Dilfarèb||12||None germinated|
|Alma x Hazari||5||None germinated|
|Sita x Radha||5||None germinated|
|Sita x Bonavia||3||None germinated|
|Sita x Padshah||11||None germinated|
|MacuIata x Ulta||7||None germinated|
|Benam x Dilfarèb||7||None germinated|
|Lucy x Bonavia||15||None germinated|
|Lucy x Bonavia||15||1 germinated|
|Lucy x S. Marco||Uncounted||5 germinated and 3 perished|
|Lucy x S. Marco||Uncounted||1 germinated|
|Dil Awèz x seedling from Holland||25||1 germinated|
|Dil Awèz x seedling from Holland||25||2 germinated|
|Alma x Dilfarèb||38||2 germinated|
|S. Marco x Lucy||Uncounted||2 germinated and perished|
Here is a lot of twenty different pistils crossed with the pollen of their peers, and apparently producing among them upwards of 167 seeds, and all of them worthless ; and another lot of seven pistils, also crossed with the pollen of their peers, producing upwards of 103 seeds, eleven of which only were visible; while, on the contrary, eight pistils of the common kinds, crossed with some of the above, produced among them 359 seeds, of which 154 germinated, and 123 are now living, that is, more than a third.
Promiscuous crossing has, in my opinion, this advantage—if the pollen of the desired flower, which should, I think, be applied first, to give it a better chance, do not take, you may have other chances of getting seed, by applying other kinds of pollen afterwards. If the first succeed, I think no harm will result by some of the ovules being fertilised by other pollen also.
It will be seen from the above experiments that in some kinds, even when the pollen sets up some action, it is only in a small number of the ovules contained in the seed vessel that fertilisation actually occurs. If you limit yourself to only one kind of pollen per pistil and wait for the result, the opportunity of obtaining any seed from a plant that season may slip away. For practical purposes—that is, for getting a large amount of seed with the chance of new kinds coming out of them—I should say, fertilise promiscuously.
(b) The other question question I should like to ask is this:—Is it possible for an ovule to be fertilised by more than one pollen grain, either of the same or of different flowers? This, I think, could only be decided by the microscope, and by carefully made experiments on prolific individuals. By watching the result it might be perhaps ascertained whether two distinct characters belonging to two pollen-bearing Amaryllis could be blended with those of a third, used as a seed bearer.
I would conclude by stating that all the seeds obtained in 1882 and 1883 were subjected to the same treatment, and therefore the want of germinating power, and in some cases speedy death after germination, must have been due either to a want or a deficiency of vitality.
After writing the above I read an article on "Sterility in Plants," by Dr. Matthews Duncan, published in the Lancet. It is interesting, and he comes to the conclusion that sterility may result from a large number of opposite causes, besides from interbreeding. E. Bonavia, M.D., Etawah, Jan. 19. [See Gardeners' Chronicle, p. 344, vol. xix.]