This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The subject of hybridization and other crossing has ever been an interesting one to me; hence I read Mr. Miner's article on hybrid Strawberries in the July issue of the Gardener's Monthly, and the editorial comments thereon with much attention. But if "Webster's definition of the term be the true one, then I judge there can be no such thing as a hybrid Strawberry, a hybrid Peach, or a hybrid Cherry. He says a hybrid is a cross between two species, as a mule - which is; a new species. A cross between two varieties of the same species is not a hybrid. A cross, no matter how produced, between two varieties of Strawberry, or any other fruit, produces not a hybrid, but a new variety of the same species. Hence, your conclusion that a cross between Fragaria vesca and F. Virginiana would be a hybrid, can hardly be correct, as it would still be possessed of all the characteristics of a Strawberry. A cross between a Strawberry and a Raspberry would be a proper hybrid; but it would be neither a Strawberry nor a Raspberry, but a new species to be called by some other name.
Hence, Mr. Miner may well conclude that we have no hybrid Strawberries.
But all productions from the seed of fruits, it may be safe to affirm, are crosses, and therefore new varieties, differing more or less from the parents. Holy Writ mentions " the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, " at the creation. Doubtless such was the case then, and would be now under similar circumstances. But the variations of soil, climate and circumstance, have produced numberless corresponding changes in production; and the means of cross-fertilization 'have become so numerous and universal, that such result can now scarcely be possible.
Hybridization proper, is a process of but rare occurrence. I believe it is supposed that the Apricot is a hybrid between the Plum and the Peach. However that may be, it has a strong resemblance, both in wood and fruit to each.
Whether art can ever be brought to aid nature in this direction, so as to bring about any beneficial results, may be regarded as doubtful. Yet an these days of wonders, such a result is possible. We know little yet of nature or of nature's laws.
But I look to the crossing of varieties as the means by which great results are to be obtained, not only in the fruit and floral kingdoms, but in the animal and the human as well. It cannot be denied that the stock-growers have made more progress in this direction, than we horticulturists have made.
I close by urging horticulturists of all classes, and especially the young, to press forward in this interesting branch of study and experiment. Rivers, Kirtland, and others, have achieved great things; much yet remains to be done. Perfection may never be reached. When it is, the milleuium is at hand. But the progress toward it will be eternal.
[Our correspondent confuses species with genus. A hybrid between a Strawberry (Fragaria) and a Raspberry (Rubus) would be an intermixture of two genera. There are instances of two supposed genera intermixing, but such occurrences among plants are so rare, that if this were all that was meant by a "hybrid, " the term would never be used. An intermixture between Fragaria vesca and F. Virginiana, two species, would be a hybrid: an intermixture between Albany Seedling Strawberry and the Downing Strawberry would be a cross; and the progeny from the Downing or any other kind, differing from its parent, without the intervention of any other pollen but its own, would be a variety. It is safe to say that the Apricot did not originate between the Plum and the Peach. Ed. G. M. ]