Roy. Hort. Soc. 24: 67-68 (1900)
FERTILISATION OF THE GENUS ANTHURIUM
Monsieur De La Devansaye
I HAVE published in the Flore des Serres et des Jardins de l’Europe, 1877, vol. xxii. p. 37, a general article on the fertilisation and hybridisation of Aroideae. Some time after, in vol. xxiii. of the same journal, at p. 26, I also published an article in which I explained the evolution of Anthurium Scherzerianum. The two articles confirmed and illustrated the researches and results then obtained, and even the hopes of hybridists of those days.
I have also published in the Revue Horticole of Paris special articles dealing with the same subject. Those to whom these experiences are interesting, and perhaps of service, will find in the Revue the history of the genus Anthurium, as well as useful and necessary knowledge; but as I followed up and always continued my studies on Anthurium I think it my duty to draw attention, not only to the two rules which formerly were supposed to terminate the question, but also to a third one.
Rule 1. In most of the species of the genus Anthurium the fecundation only operates successfully when the pollen of the same species is taken from a plant raised from a different batch of seedlings.
Rule 2. The fecundation also operates with success by the application of pollen belonging to species of some allied genus; for instance, that of Spathiphyllum. This assures fecundation, and often gives variation to the colouring of the flowers, and at other times to the form of the flowers or foliage. When the variation shows itself in the flowers the growth of the plant is more vigorous. The contrary happens when it shows itself in the form and markings of the leaves. If the fecundation is only done with a view of reproducing and improving the type, the resultant seedlings coming from carefully selected varieties are generally more vigorous in point of growth.
Rule 3. Now let me form a third rule, resulting from the experiences of many years, and to which I think I ought to attract your most particular attention, as it does not seem to have been noticed or explained before.
I have already said how one can obtain variations, but in spite of good crossing it often happens that the first and second generations of seedlings have no (or very little) new blood in them. Such seedlings similar only to the type have been abandoned, given up, or destroyed. It is an error to do this because the variations may eventually result from a very slight—almost unnoticeable—change of the type. One must have patience, as the seed of the third and fourth future generations obtained from these plants may unexpectedly give the desired change.
It very seldom occurs that a variation is produced immediately among first seedlings of species or of hybrids; the process must be continued. A second batch of seedlings will perhaps give 50 per cent., and a third trial 75 to 80 per cent.; thus half results may be obtained with the third generation, and from 75 to 80 per cent, with the fourth. These successive seedlings of the same variety are necessary to definitely insure the improvements obtained since the first generation. A careful selection must always be the principal aim of the raiser, because without that, far from succeeding in getting progress or improvement and fixing the definite success, the success itself degenerates and returns to the type.