This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
I send you by this mail a few fruits of Cepha-lotaxus Fortunii. Although I have grown this species for twenty-five years past, this is the first time during that period of fruit being produced.
My object in sending you this fruit is to show there is a greater variation in the sex of the flowers of some trees than is generally supposed. Siebold describes the genus Cephalotaxus as dioecious. For many years I thought this correct, as my tree produced only male flowers. This year a large proportion of the flowers were female, and the result is a heavy crop of plumlike fruit, giving a beautiful appearance to the tree.
My specimen trees were received from Belgium in 1858; the female variety died after a couple of years planting, and those received since are planted at a considerable distance from the male tree. The female appears in every respect identical with Cephalotaxus drupacaea. The male tree, so called, has certainly proved to be monoecious this year, and I believe, therefore, that the word dioecious cannot altogether be relied upon as regards this variety.
Some seedling trees of Japanese persimmon produced nothing but male flowers during six years. The seventh, about one female flower to three hundred male. The eighth year, one female flower to about one hundred male, showing a gradual change in the inflorescence, and as the trees became older they became fruitful.
[This very interesting note, coming so soon after the discovery, that Salisburia, or the Ginko tree, is probably monoecious, will leave few, if any, truly dioecious genera among coniferae. In regard to the appearance of the male flowers, it is generally the case that they appear a year or several years before the appearance of the female flowers although branches which bear female flowers, as they become weakened by age, bear male flowers only ! This appears to be a general law, and it might therefore be expected that a tree, many years male, and which would thus give some ground for regarding its species as dioecious, might become female.
Another point is that Prof. Karl Koch believed Cephalotaxus Fortunii to be but a barren or male form of C. drupacea, though the last seems to be the only form in Japan, while the other is credited to China. The leaves and habit of the two are different, but this might be but sexual characters, which often extend to foliage and habit as well as to floral characters But we have often seen the fruit of C. drupacea, especially on the grounds of A. D. Brown, Esq., of Princeton, and they are much larger and differently formed from those of Mr. Berckmans, though not having both before us the exact characters cannot be noted. If Mr. Berckmans finds the foliacious character still different in the fruiting specimens of each, the fact will go far towards confirming the tendency of botanical belief, that the two are distinct species. - Ed. G. M].