RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 1862. Variations effected by cultivation. Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener 3 (2 December): 696.
REVISION HISTORY: Scanned, OCRed, corrected and edited by John van Wyhe 2003-8. RN2
VARIATIONS EFFECTED BY CULTIVATION.
AS you have been so obliging as to insert my query on the crossing of Strawberries,1 perhaps you will grant me the favour to insert two or three other questions, for the chance of some one having the kindness to answer them. I am writing a book on "Variation under Domestication," in which I treat chiefly on animals; but I wish to give some few facts on the changes of cultivated plants.
1st. The fruit of the wild Gooseberry is said to weigh about 5 dwts.2 (I am surprised that it is so heavy), and from various records I find that towards the close of the last century the fruit had doubled in weight; in 1817, a weight of 26 dwts. 17 grs.3 was obtained; in 1825, 31 dwts. 13 grs.; in 1841, "Wonderful" weighed 32 dwts. 16 grs.; in 1845, "London" reached the astonishing weight of 36 dwts. 16 grs., or 880 grains. I find in the "Gooseberry Register" for 1862,4 that this famous kind attained only the weight of 29 dwts. 8 grs., and was beaten by "Antagonist." Will any one have the kindness to inform me whether it is authentically known that the weight of 36 dwts. 16 grs., has, since the year 1845, been ever excelled?
2nd. Is any record kept of the diameter attained by the largest Pansies? I have read of one above 2 inches in diameter, which is a surprising size compared with the flowers of the wild Viola tricolor, and the allied species or varieties.
3rd. How early does any variety of the Dahlia flower? Mr. Salisbury, writing in 1808, shortly after the first introduction of this plant into England, speaks of their flowering from September, or the end of September, to November.5 Whereas, Mr. J. Wells, in Loudon's "Gardener's Magazine" for 1828, states that some of his dwarf kinds began flowering in June.6 I presume the end of June. Do any of the varieties now regularly flower as early as June? Have any varieties been observed to withstand frost better than other varieties?7
If any one will give me information on these small points, I shall feel greatly obliged.—CHAS. DARWIN, Down, Bromley, Kent.
2 'dwts.' = penny (d) weights per ton. 'A unit of weight equal to 24 grains (1/20 troy ounce), and formerly to 1/240 Tower pound, i.e. 22 1/2 grains, which was the actual weight of a silver penny.' OED
3 'grs.' = grains. 'The smallest English and U.S. unit of weight... now = 1/5760 of a lb. Troy, 1/7000 of a lb. avoirdupois.' OED
4 Gooseberry Grower's Register (1862): 192, 210.
5 Richard Anthony Salisbury (1761-1829), botanist, later changed his name to Markham. The paper was read in 1808 and published as Salisbury 1812.
6 Joseph Wells, the gardener of William Smith. Smith 1828, p. 179.
7 Darwin refers to information provided on this question in Variation 1: 370.
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Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (http://darwin-online.org.uk/)
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