This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Mr. Thomas Meehan, one of the most acute and thoughtful of American Botanists, has, several times during the present year, brought before the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, the subject of the fertilization of plants. He has observed that there are plants with conspicuous and attractive flowers, which are as much adapted to secure self-fertilization, as other flowers are for cross fertilization. One of his examples is the greenhouse annual Browallia elata, belonging to the order Scrophulariacoe, having an attractive blue flower.
Another phenomenon, the "sleep of plants," or closing of the flowers at night-fall, has been found by Mr. Meehan to result in self-fertilization in Claytonia Virginica, and some buttercups which seed abundantly in the absence of insects.
In Ranunculus bulbosa, in the evening following the first day's expansion of the flower, Mr. Meehan found the immature anthers, and the young pistils covered with pollen grains. On examining the flower he found that the outer series of anthers mature on the first day of opening, scattering the pollen on the glazed petals which, on closing for the night, drop it on the immature stamens and pistils as before noted. Another remarkable instance of self-fertilization occurs in Ranunculus abortivus, which does not close its petals at night, but the slender pedicels droop, inverting the flower, and thus allow the pollen to drop on the stigmas. Mr. Meehan concludes that some deeper purpose than has yet been conceived, governs the fertilization of plants. In view of these examples Nature cannot abhor "in and in breeding," and it can hardly be that color, fragrance, and honeyed secretions in flowers have been developed solely to secure cross fertilization. Evolutionists will await with interest, further researches by Mr. Meehan, and confirmatory evidences from other inquirers. - Nature.