RECORD: Darwin, C. R. n.d. Abstract of Decaisne in Journal Societe d'Horticulture, vol. 1. CUL-DAR73.72-77. Edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker, edited by John van Wyhe 3.2014. RN1

NOTE: Decaisne, Joseph. 1855. Le jardin fruitier du Muséum, ou monographie des arbres fruitiers cultivés dans cet établissement. — Examen critique de la doctrine de Van Mons. Journal de la Société Impériale et Centrale d'Horticulture 1: 218-40.

Reproduced with the permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library and William Huxley Darwin.


Journal de la Soc. Imp. d'Horticulture. Vol. 1855

M. Decaisne. "Examen Critique de la doctrine de Van Mons."

p. 220 Van Mons Vilmorin & Lecoq think that variability of a type increases with number of generations — says is proved false by thousands of annual plants remaining the same as thy were in remotest antiquity. (does this apply to cultivated plants?) (Moreover probably this then chiefly applied to fruit trees which have been long grafted). Decaisne says it is true that some few species vary with great facility, however little their conditions have been altered. What he is sure is false in Van Mons, is that one race of fruit tree produces another quite different: says Van Mons adduces no precise facts.

p. 222. V. Mons very inaccurate sowed seed from all parts of Europe & kept no register. —

p. 222. says no material afforded to know whether all pears descended from one stock or from several species.


p. 223. D. asks whether the Pears with petals largely rounded & undulated can be united specifically to those which have the petals flat & elliptic, or oval: "Here each of these types gives rise to parallel series of varieties?"

p. 223 says pears not fd. wild in Belgum. — Disputes vars. dying out. —

p. 225. thinks those who believe in numerous wild forms of uncultivated plants & those who believe in one both wrong. Yet agrees with Naudin's Hypothesis "Revue Horticole 1852 p. 102" who thinks all pears &c &c derived from one Pear, whence vars have arisen. "La nature aurait ainsi divisé une espèce principale en espèces secondaires, qui elles mêmes soumises à l'action modificatrice de la culture et conservant encore un reste de la plasticite primordiale, seraient devenues les souches de nos races ou varietes actuelles, toujours plus multiplier avec les siecles, mais

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toujours aussi distinctes et aussi incapables de se changer les unes dans les autres, q'une espece proprement dite, un genre une famille même, soit incapable de se transformer en d'autres espèces, d'autres genres, d'autres familles." —

(The more I think the more the extreme importance of studying amount of variation in N. American fruit trees strikes me as important: for it is very improbable that they wd have gone to wild forms if such exist, (see Asa Gray). The great point will be to ascertain whether any new types are of American origins. They may, of course, be descendants of all the Europaean types. —

xxx we gain nothing by this theory, for who can tell whether the wild forms are really species or vars. —

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[note belonging 75]

any how Van Mons had enormous success.


p. 229. Copy in full of "Essai Pomologique par M. Van Mons from "Annales generales des Sciences Physiques Bruxelles. 1819 vol 2. p. 51." —

p. 230. always sowed seed of new varieties, even if they were pods, rather than of old varieties: but afterwards it is clear that he selected from succesive seeds the best fruit "recoltée seulement sur les fruits de premier rang."

p. 233. "Nous devons cependant dire que, plus on avance en repetitions de renouvellement moins la variete est tranchant et moins la forme et le gout different" but they will not be identical, —

p. 233. After our long experience thinks the seed of Calebasse will rather produce Bon Chretien — — — than the analogues of its own subspecies.

p. 234. seed from wild plants from wood, 4 times resown yet produce wild plants. — but seed from old cultivated vars. may produce wild-looking plants, but the seed of latter will produce good plants. —

p. 235. disbelieves that any of our varieties are the same with those of ancient Greeks & Latins.


p. 237. Pear trese with numerous leaves large & tender pale, & soft, buds &c — foretell small summer pears, but there are strong exceptions, & we have 3 kinds with evry good & large fruit, characterised as described. —

p. 238. in seedling apples can tell by general appearance with certainty what sous-espece will be produced.

p. 238. has once had a truly wild Peach with fruit like Almond tree. —

p. 238. The nectarine comes from the Peach, & the Peach comes from the Nectarine. (Why shd Decaisne doubt Van Mons so much).

p. 239. La Guigne rouge de nos bois (a wild cherry) que j'ai souvent terminé sans avoir pu la faire varier" except slight increase in size in first generation.

p. do. "la prune n' est pas très sujette a varier car jusque à la Reine Claude elle se reproduit identique comme si primitivement elle avait eté extraite de nos bois, ou trouvée dans nos haies." —


p. 254. Culture des choux-races de terre, par Mr J.G. Meyer (Gartenflora ap. 1855)

These differ from common Choux Races, that the swelling of the axis is under ground: no less than 9 sub-vars of this described!

p. 251. Nouvelles var. d'Achimanes et quelques faits relatifs aux hybrides. (Gartenflora ap. 1855) par M. Regel —

says in most plants produced between a hybrid & a (third) pure species the resemblance is most to pure species. The case given confirms Gaertners law of zusammengesetze hybrids).

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