Page:Origin of Species 1872.djvu/138

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the outer and inner flowers in some Compositous and Umbelliferous plants. Everyone is familiar with the difference between the ray and central florets of, for instance, the daisy, and this difference is often accompanied with the partial or complete abortion of the reproductive organs. But in some of these plants the seeds also differ in shape and sculpture. These differences have sometimes been attributed to the pressure of the involucra on the florets, or to their mutual pressure, and the shape of the seeds in the ray-florets of some Compositæ countenances this idea; but with the Umbelliferæ it is by no means, as Dr. Hooker informs me, the species with the densest heads which most frequently differ in their inner and outer flowers. It might have been thought that the development of the ray-petals, by drawing nourishment from the reproductive organs causes their abortion; but this can hardly be the sole case, for in some Compositæ the seeds of the outer and inner florets differ, without any difference in the corolla. Possibly these several differences may be connected with the different flow of nutriment towards the central and external flowers. We know, at least, that with irregular flowers those nearest to the axis are most subject to peloria, that is to become abnormally symmetrical. I may add, as an instance of this fact, and as a striking case of correlation, that in many pelargoniums the two upper petals in the central flower of the truss often lose their patches of darker colour; and when this occurs, the adherent nectary is quite aborted, the central flower thus becoming peloric or regular. When the colour is absent from only one of the two upper petals, the nectary is not quite aborted but is much shortened.

With respect to the development of the corolla, Sprengel's idea that the ray-florets serve to attract insects, whose agency is highly advantageous, or necessary for the fertilisation of these plants, is highly probable; and if so, natural selection may have come into play. But with respect to the seeds, it seems impossible that their differences in shape, which are not always correlated with any difference in the corolla, can be in any way beneficial; yet in the Umbelliferæ these differences are of such apparent importance — the seeds being sometimes orthospermous in the exterior flowers and coelospermous in the central flowers,— that the elder De Candolle founded his main divisions in the order on such characters. Hence modifications of structure, viewed by systematists as of high value, may be wholly due to the laws of variation and correlation, without being, as far as we can judge, of the slightest service to the species.

We may often falsely attribute to correlated variation structures which are common to whole groups of species, and which in truth