Though harnessed down to over-much heavy work, I have a chance to slip a few words edgewise into the Hybrid Plum and Plum stock discussion, so interesting to me, and made still more so by the remarks of Casper Hiller, Prof. H. E. Van Deman, E. F. Hillenmeyer, and yourself in the March number of your journal.

First. Blackman And Other Plums For Stocks

Having grown the Blackman for a number of years, and observed its behavior, I am perfectly satisfied in my own mind that it possesses peach blood, and behaves quite similar to the peach. It grows off very vigorously when young; attains maturity quickly, and like the peach, quickly begins to fail. It might be a step in advance of the peach as a stock, if on its own roots, but very doubtfully worth $5 per hundred as such. Happily another plum imbued with Chicasaw blood mingled with some other species - possibly some strain of P. domestica, similar to De Caradenc, as it much resembles De Caradenc in flower, leaf and habit, but in fruit greatly like Wild Goose, only earlier - it could easily be a cross of Wild Goose and De Caradenc, taking after the former in productiveness, size, quality, and color, while after the latter in flower and tree, except the bark on young twigs is not so yellow, more like Wild Goose. This is the Marianna plum. Those who know it well, will bear me out in the above and following statements. Its most remarkable characteristics are, that it grows almost as easily as willow, from cuttings.

It does not sprout from the roots, as do other Chicasaw varieties; it continues to grow all the season through, and can be budded into as late or later than the peach; it carries other plums, or the peach, excellently as a stock; it is borer proof, and the leaves never " rust" as do those of the Wild Goose. The fruit has never been damaged - though stung - by curculio, along side of Wild Goose seriously injured. This variety originated in Southern Texas, and does amazingly well all through the Gulf States; and in Iowa and Illinois has endured 30 below zero with little if any apparent damage.

I almost hesitate to make the above statement, for fear I may not be believed. But I risk my reputation on it. A variety promising such wonderful capabilities, ought to be known. It is now quite well distributed, and in a few years will be abundant enough to furnish all plum stocks needed. When wood becomes abundant, I believe the stocks can be grown from these cuttings as cheaply as from the seed of other kinds.

Second. Hybrid Plums And Peaches

Friend Hillenmeyer's testimony as to the Wild Goose plum hybridizing with peach, is perfectly in accord with my experience. Though I have never actually emasculated the flowers of Wild Goose and fertilized with peach pollen, yet I have evidence, which to my mind, and to every one who has seen my trees, (Prof. Van Deman so expressed himself when looking at the trees here) is as conclusive, if not more so, than the mere act of artificial impregnation having been performed. Just as conclusive as it would be to a naturalist, if he found his first mule wild in the woods, he would never conclude it to be a "sport" of either Equus caballus or E. asinus, but a distinct species, or else a hybrid. If a little further on he would find a mare (E. caballus female) with a mule foal for the first time, he would be quite sure the foal was a hybrid, and that with E. asinus, not a "sport" nor hybrid with the E. zebra or any other species of Equus. Now the following facts may the more • easily be understood, and you will be able to judge whether or not my a posteriori argument is not as good as your a priori reasoning.

For even if careful artificial fertilization is performed, one cannot be absolutely certain that a foreign peach, or other pollen grain, may not have been floating by in the air and alighted on the stigma at some time during the operation. The air at such season is more or less laden with such grains, undiscernable - only to the smell or through the microscope - and this seems to indicate them to be present all through the atmosphere in any region where plum and peach are blooming profusely. It would be almost an impossibility to be absolutely certain that just the desired impregnation had been performed.

Besides, there is a strong element of a priori reasoning on my side.


In 1883 in my orchard stood two Wild Goose plum trees immediately surrounded by a variety of stone fruits as follows, all of which bloomed and bore abundantly that year: Alexander nearest and many other varieties of peach a little more distant, Golden Beauty plum. Weaver, Yellow Transparent plum (an early yellow pure Chicasaw with small leaves), Caddo Chief - also pure Chicasaw, early red. I gathered seeds from the two Wild Goose, carefully saved and planted alone. In Spring 1884 these germinated well, and made a fine growth from 2 to 3 feet the first year. Imagine my astonishment, to find about one-third of them much more resembling peach than any known plum, and all these were much more vigorous than any of the others the first year. About one-third of this seedling Wild Goose, had small glossy leaves, and thorny growth like the small Chicasaws. The others were quite variable, a few closely like Wild Goose, one very vigorous and beautiful, much resembling Golden Beauty in leaf and peculiar habit with its yellow-barked twigs, and late blooming habit. No fruit yet; blooming again this year.

Two or three appear much like Weaver, or about midway between Wild Goose and Weaver (P. Americana).

The peach-like forms became sickly with mildew in leaf in the wet season of 1885, and are now nearly all dead. They have set bloom buds but never bloom, the buds dropping out before the time for blooming, a week or ten days, in the same way that Blackman generally does. If these are not hybrids and only " sports," why are not some of them like some other nearly related stone-fruit not growing in the vicinity of the parent?

In the fall of 1882 I gathered a quantity of wild plums from a large-treed species of wild plum, native here (P. umbellata?), and planted for stocks, on account of its vigor and sproutless roots. In the spring of 1883 the'seed germinated and grew well, making some 15,000 little trees; among these three only were so peculiar, peach like, and twice as high as the others, no one could but notice them, looking over the block. They continued growing and sappy long after the others ripened their wood. The bark and leaves had decided peach-taste, while none of the others had. I planted these in my orchard to fruit. They have grown well, set full of buds three years, but have never bloomed a single flower, while other stone fruit all around have bloomed profusely. They begin already to show signs of early maturity, like peach trees. I went the summer after we gathered those plum seed and examined every tree from which we took plums, but found nothing similar, but some of them stood near an old peach orchard.

In 1885 a friend of mine here, saved quite a lot of Wild Goose plum seed from his trees, growing near a variety of peach, small-leaved Chicasaw plums, Weaver plums, and Damson plums. The seeds were planted all in one row. In the spring of 1886 they came up beautifully, some grew a foot high, some 2 feet, some 3 feet, and some 4 feet or more. The smaller ones generally resemble in leaf and habit, the small-leaved Chicasaws; the medium sizes vary much, some closely like Wild Goose, some are remarkably like the Damson plum, others are much like Weaver, and probably one-third of these and most all the larger ones are exceedingly like peach. I shall continue to observe this confounding lot of trees and report.

The Wild Goose with me and this friend always bore profusely. But how many reports do we hear of Wild Goose plum orchards being almost sterile, when not having other varieties among them !

This shows that the Wild Goose does not fertilize itself to any extent, and that even the peach will fertilize it. I have other facts bearing on this same subject, but already I have probably exceeded your patience and reasonable space.

Now, who has grown seedlings of Wild Goose plum trees standing isolated, or at a distance from other plums and from peach trees and with what results?

Now, friend Meehan, it's your time to put in with some genuine a priori facts supporting your theory that plums and peaches do not hybridize, but rather "sport." I once advocated that theory, but the above facts have rather knocked me off my pegs, on that ground. Also we want facts to show that these peach-like seedlings of plums are not hybrid, or if they are, that they are not infertile. I believe Prof. Van Deman to have rather the best side of this question. Denison, Tex.

[Our friend has mistaken the position of the Editor. There are three mental conditions connected with judgment - assent, dissent, and that which is almost persuaded but waits for more evidence. In this latter class, not in the second, are we in this hybrid question. We believe in the possibility, the probability, the almost certainty, that the peach and plum will cross and produce hybrids. We are not willing to assent that the very strong circumstances presented by Mr. D. constitute the absolute certainty which true science demands.

And we say this, not from any a priori reasoning, but from the a posteriori reasoning adduced by experience in other cases.

For instance: we found in a bed of Halesia tetraptera seedlings, a plant with the leaves of an apple tree. We are sure ninety per cent, of casual observers, if not the whole hundred, would say in passing, "there is a young apple tree growing among the Snowdrop trees." The tree was saved. Its habit of growth is not like an ordinary Halesia, but like an apple tree. When it bloomed, the flowers had not the tubular base like a characteristic Halesia, but it is cup shaped, just like the flower of an apple tree, and then it is " sterile just like a mule should be," as our friends would say. These seeds were all gathered from one tree near Germantown. There is one tree flowering of Halesia diptera, some twelve miles away, but no one would suggest an hybrid from this parentage. There is no other kind of Halesia within a thousand miles, or anywhere for it to hybridize with.

Distinguished botanists who have seen it, concur in opinion, that if the plant had been found wild, it possibly might have been used to establish a new genus.

The botanist with his knowledge of the limitations in nature would not agree with the one hundred common observers that this was a hybrid between the Halesia and an apple. His evidence would be considered of the a priori order. Our evidence is of the posterior character. We have the facts which lead up to the case.

It is because we have the actual facts in numberless other cases, of the wonderful power of bud variation in nature, that we prefer to be regarded as almost persuaded, rather than an absolute believer in these easy mixtures. - Ed. G. M].