Trans. Royal Hort. Soc. 5: 384
XLVII. A Notice of certain Seedling Varieties of Amaryllis, presented to the Society by the Hon. and Rev.
WILLIAM HERBERT, in 1820, which flowered in the Society's Garden in February 1823.
By Mr. JOHN LINDLEY, F. L. S. &c.
Assistant Secretary at the Carden.
Read March 4, 1823.
|* See Horticultural Transactions, Vol. iii. page 196.
** See Horticultural Transactions, Vol. iv. page 43.
IN the third Volume of the Society's Transactions, it is stated by the Hon. and Rev. WILLIAM HERBERT, in a Paper upon the subject of Hybrid Plants,* "that he then possessed several mule Amaryllises, from which he had great expectations;" and in the fourth Volume of the Transactions, in an essay by the same Gentleman, upon the production of hybrid individuals, it is remarked,** that he had sent, "twenty-four bulbs to the Society, each of which was an offset from a different seedling of a mule Amaryllis equestri-vittata, crossed again with Amaryllis rutila and Amaryllis fulgida, which from their rapid growth and increase, their free habit, and probable beauty of blossom, were likely to become favourites in every collection."
At the time the above Papers were read, it seemed improbable, and contrary to general observation, that plants obtained under such circumstances should be not only more beautiful than either parent, but even productive of flowers in greater profusion. It is therefore very gratifying to me to announce that these seedlings actually exceed those from which they are derived in both respects, as is evident from the specimens exhibited this day, which have blossomed in one of the stoves in the garden of the Society at Chiswick.
|* See Horticultural Transactions, Vol, iv. page 43.|
It is stated by Mr. HERBERT that the twenty-four bulbs which he sent to the Society, were each the offset of a different seedling. There do not however appear to be more than nine which are capable of being distinguished from each other, and of these only four are remarkably superior in beauty to the plants named as their parents. It is also obvious, that none of the plants bear a decided resemblance to any of their supposed parents, except to Amaryllis rutila, to which they are so similar, that a botanist, in ignorance of their history, would not have hesitated to refer them all to that species; of which indeed it may still be doubted whether they are not mere natural varieties, rather than hybrid productions; for Mr. HERBERT'S admission,* that in certain cases the pollen of A. fulgida was not applied till some time after that of A. rutila, and the absence of similarity in the seedlings to the former plant, are sufficient to create a doubt whether the impregnation was affected by A. fulgida; and the female parent is stated to have been a seedling obtained by an intermixture of A. equestris and A. vittata, but it may probably have been a mere variety of the former, and it is to be suspected, that it must have been so, since no circumstance whatsoever in the seedling plants indicates the presence of A. vittata.
If, therefore, the apparently complex origin of Mr. HERBERT'S seedlings be thus explained away, by reducing their parents to A. rutila and A. equestris, the question, whether they are hybrid productions or natural varieties is brought within the much narrower compass of deciding whether or not A. equestris and A. rutila are specifically distinct from each other. Upon which subject the seedling plants themselves will offer the best evidence. If they should prove fertile it must be inferred that they are natural varieties, and that the technical distinctions by which botanists have divided their parents are unnatural and insufficient; a conjecture, I apprehend, future experience not unlikely to confirm. But if they should be sterile, they will maintain their claim to hybridity and the distinct origin of their parents may be considered as established.
Such at least are the inferences which must be drawn, so long as the principles of KÖLREUTER and other writers who have investigated the subject of vegetable hybridity with the greatest precision, remain unshaken. And I cannot forbear adding, that these are completely confirmed by such instances as have come within my own observation of fertility in plants supposed to be hybrid.
|* See Horticultural Transactions, Vol. iv. page 498.|
It will perhaps be urged that the splendid variety of Amaryllis obtained* by Mr. GOWEN from the impregnation of A. Reginae with A. vittata, is a proof that fertile plants may be procured by the intermixture of two distinct species; and that therefore the test of hybridity above alluded to, is not infallible. But it may be replied, that it is well known that other instances have occurred in which the union of two natural species has produced a third stock which was proved to be fertile to the extent of even three generations; but that after that term it perished; and as far as I am informed, experiments in raising this variety from seed have not been carried beyond the first generation. The test of hybridity is not the ascertaining whether a given plant is susceptible of propagation, but of perpetuation by seed.
At the time when Mr. GOWEN'S new hybrid plant was sent to the Society (viz. in August, 1821) and when the account of it was printed, it was supposed that there was no difference between it and the old Amaryllis Johnsoni. Its beauty has however increased very much with its age, and the flowers it has now produced are so much more rich and glowing in colour than those of Amaryllis Johnsoni, that a figure of it has been ordered by the Council to be published from a drawing by Miss COTTON, to accompany this Paper.