RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 1877. Fertilisation of plants. Gardeners' Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette 7, no. 162 (24 February): 246.

REVISION HISTORY: Scanned, OCRed, corrected and edited by John van Wyhe 2003-8, textual corrections by Sue Asscher 3.2007. RN4

Darwin's lightly annotated copy is in

[page] 246

Fertilisation of Plants.—In the last number of the Gardeners' Chronicle (p. 203) Mr. Henslow1 quotes my words, that "the seeds from whch the self-fertilised plants of the third generation (of Petunia) were raised were not well ripened."2 The word self-fertilised is a misprint for crossed, as he would have seen if he had looked to the full account of my experiments given at p. 191, where I say, "The sole conjecture which I can form is that the crossed seeds had not been sufficiently ripened, &c." But I have no right to expect a critic to take so much trouble, and I am much obliged to him for having led me to detect this unfortunate misprint. Mr. Henslow then goes on to say that "Mr. Darwin also accounts for the greater growth of the eighth generation of Ipomœa from their having been raised from unhealthy seeds." He ought I think, to have added that the greater growth of the self-fertilised plants was confined to the early part of their lives, and that they were ultimately beaten in height by the crossed plants in the ratio of one hundred to eighty-five. It was this anomalous manner of growth which led me to compare these plants with those of Iberis which were raised from seeds not well ripened. I have long been convinced that controversy is a mere waste of time; I will, therefore, not make any other remarks on Mr. Henslow's criticisms, though I think that I could answer them satisfactorily. I hope that any reader who is interested in the subject will not take Mr. Henslow's interpretation of my statements without consulting my book. Charles Darwin, February 19.

1 George Henslow (1835-1925), clergyman and teacher. Henslow 1877.

2 Cross and self fertilisation, p. 275

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Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

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