We are often asked why there should be such a diversity of color in plants of the same species, produced from seed of one flower when grown in the same soil, or what is the process by which it is produced, or the cause of any color in plants. A question more easily asked than answered. I once put this question to a celebrated chemist, supposing he might throw some light upon it. The answer was, "that there were many theories upon the subject, but nothing satisfactory had been discovered, and probably never would be." It is the secret working of the God of Nature, and unexplainable. In turning over the files of the Horticultural Journal, published in 1835-6-7-8, I find the following article upon the subject, from which, as it may be of interest to the Lovers of Flowers, I insert the following extracts:

"The curious and striking varieties of color in flowers, their metamorphoses, the delicate pencilling of the veins in many, and the beautiful hues of striped petals, which have from time immemorial attracted the attention even of the listless observer of nature, have of course not been left unexamined by the philosopher of every age; and although there is sufficient reason to believe that the usual methods of rigorous examination into cause and effect have been applied with all the ingenuity that a love of nature, or an ambition of distinction could suggest, these labors have not yet led to any very satisfactory theory on the subject of the cause of color, and its variation of flowers."

"Those who are not conversant with raising varieties of Tulips from seed should be informed that what is technically called breaking of a seeding tulip, is the sudden change which takes place one year in the color of the flower; for instance, from a dull purple it will change to a fine clear white with brilliant red stripes, or from another dull color to a bright yellow with dark stripes, and this bulb, with its progeny of bulbs, if properly managed, will always remain of the same colors. This process often takes six or twelve years, and cannot apparently be foreseen or accelerated, some never break or change at all. The person who raised or broke the famous tulip Polyphemus, told the writer that it was nine years before this effect was produced."

"There are also many other curious proceedings of nature on this subject, which must have been generally remarked; the flower of Cobaea scandens is green the first day and violet the next - the Hibiscus mutabilis is white in the morning, pink at noon, and red at night."

"M. DeCandolle, whose opinion on all subjects relating to the laws of vegetable structure is entitled to the greatest attention, has divided the colors of flowers into two series, the Xanthic, and the Cyanic as follows:

Xanthic or oxidized series


orange red.


orange yellow.


yellow green.

Color of leaves, Green.

Cyanic or deoxidized series

greenish blue.


violet blue.


violet red.


founded on a memoir of Messrs. Schubler and Funk, published at Tubingen, in Germany, in 1825, where it is stated that all flowers may be divided into two classes, one having the yellow color for its type; these are incapable of passing into blue, but into every shade of red and white; the other having the blue color for its type, which can also pass into every shade of red and white, but never into yellow; thus, for instance, the Potentilla, a little yellow flower like the butter-cup, which abounds everywhere, trailing along the ground, has been found of different shades of red, but never blue; the China Aster which has every tinge of red, blue, is never yellow; the Dahlia is never blue, but often yellow and red."

"It will have been remarked that white is omitted from these two series. It may be doubted, indeed, whether it really exists in a state of purity in flowers, and it seems to be rather some other color reduced to an exceedingly light tint. Redoute, the French flower-painter, is said to have availed himself with great advantage of this fact. He always placed the flower he wished to represent before a sheet of paper like that on which he had made his drawing, and he uniformly found that the flower would differ from the paper in being more yellow, or more pink, or more blue, or in some other way. White Campanulas become blue when they are dried; infusions of white flowers in alcohol have always a perceptible tinge. Flowers which are white, verging upon yellow, yield infusions which alkalies bring to a more positive brown; infusions of those which are white, tending to blue or red, become light red by the action of acids, and greenish by the action of alkalies."

"Infusions of yellow flowers in alcohol are of a clear yellow, without the flowers losing much color. Acids produce no other effect in these infusions than to weaken their color slightly. Alkalies make them more brilliant or browner."

"Blue flowers produce, in alcohol, infusions either of a clear blue, as those of flax, or very dark, as in the case of the Aconite and the Larkspur. By the addition of acids they become red, and of alkalies green. Those which are colored red by acids, will not recover their blueness by the addition of alkalies, as sometimes happens to infusions of red flowers. Macaire having seen a red infusion of violets regain by degrees the natural blue of those flowers, by the addition of a vegetable alkali, such as quinine or strychnine, suspects that the color of the violet depends upon the combination of their chromule with some alkali. Schubler and Funk assure us that the infusion of the Blue Day Lily {Funkia coerulea,) treated with an acid, will present, in the same glass, all the tints of the colored spectrum. Blues are among the most changeable colors in vegetation, passing freely to white, and to different tints of violet and red."