Cross and Self Fertilisation

While writing his autobiography, Darwin was about to publish this book.

FertilisationDuring this autumn of 1876 I shall publish on the Effects of Cross- and Self-Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdom. This book will form a complement to that on the Fertilisation of Orchids, in which I showed how perfect were the means for cross-fertilisation, and here I shall show how important are the results. I was led to make, during eleven years, the numerous experiments recorded in this volume, by a mere accidental observation; and indeed it required the accident to be repeated before my attention was thoroughly aroused to the remarkable fact that seedlings of self-fertilised parentage are inferior, even in the first generation, in height and vigour to seedlings of cross-fertilised parentage. I hope also to republish a revised edition of my book on Orchids, and hereafter my papers on dimorphic and trimorphic plants, together with some additional observations on allied points which I never have had time to arrange. My strength will then probably be exhausted, and I shall be ready to exclaim "Nunc dimittis."

The Effects of Cross- and Self-Fertilisation1 was published in the autumn of 1876; and the results there arrived at explain, as I believe, the endless and wonderful contrivances for the transportal of pollen from one plant to another of the same species. I now believe, however, chiefly from the observations of Hermann Müller, that I ought to have insisted more strongly than I did on the many adaptations for self-fertilisation; though I was well aware of many such adaptations. A much enlarged edition of my Fertilisation of Orchids was published in 1877.

1 This long addendum added May 1st, 1881, to …"old geological thoughts.", p. 136.—N.B.

This book is also discussed in LL 3: Chapter VIII.

John van Wyhe

Bibliographical introduction by R. B. Freeman

This survey of the nature of the mechanisms favouring cross fertilisation and the advantages to be gained by it was considered by Darwin to 'form a complement to that on the "Fertilisation of Orchids" '. It was too technical and too detailed to command a wide sale. The first edition, which has an errata slip of three lines facing page viii, was published on November 10, 1876, and 1,500 copies were sold before the end of the year. It was issued in a standard binding, without inserted advertisements, at a price of 12s. In both this and the second edition the spine titles spell fertilisation with a 'z', whilst the title pages spell it with an 's'.

The second edition of 1878 is not greatly altered, indeed first and last words on each page remain the same up to page 370, where the addition of a large footnote necessitates the resetting of all the rest of the book. The final printing of 1915 describes itself, on the verso of the title leaf, as 'Second edition', whilst it calls the true second edition a reprint. It is however no more than a reprint from stereos, although remarkable for being the last, by fifteen years, to appear in the standard case.

The American printings are from English stereos. There is a New York facsimile of an American printing of 1895, but other than that the work has never reappeared in English. It was translated into French, German and Italian in Darwin's lifetime, and into three further languages since his death.

1876. The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. Text Image PDF F1249

1877. The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. New York: Appleton. Image PDF F1250

1878. The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. 2d ed. Text Image PDF F1251


1877. Des effets de la fécondation croisée et de la fécondation directe dans le règne végétal. Text Image PDF F1265


1877. Die Wirkungen der Kreuz- und Selbst-Befruchtung im Pflanzenreich. Text Image PDF F1266


1878. Gli effetti della fecondazione incrociata e propria nel regno vegetale. PDF F1269


1959. Skutki krzyżowania i samozapładniania w świecie roślin. PDF F1270


1964. Efectele fecundarii incrucisate si ale autofecundarii in regnul vegetal. Diferitele dispozitive cu ajutorul carora orhideele sint fecundate de catre insecte. PDF F1271


1950 Fertilisation of Flowers [in Russian]. Darwin's preface only. PDF F1433


Click here for a full bibliographical list.


From: Freeman, R. B. 1977. The Works of Charles Darwin: An Annotated Bibliographical Handlist. 2nd edn. Dawson: Folkstone.

NOTE: With thanks to The Charles Darwin Trust and Dr Mary Whitear for use of the Bibliographical Handlist. Copyright. All rights reserved. For private academic use only. Not for republication or reproduction in whole or in part without the prior written consent of The Charles Darwin Trust, 14 Canonbury Park South London N1 2JJ.

Corrections and additions copyright The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online - National University of Singapore.


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