This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The varieties which are so called, and classed as a distinct species or family in the London Society's Transactions, are not actually so, but are merely very dark colored varieties of the F. Virginiana or hybrids. No such distinctive division is made by the French and Belgians. The Downton is a seedling of F. Virginiana, and others may be hybrids, such as Black Prince, Hovey, etc.
In Johnson's Dictionary of Gardening, this section is distinguished as "F. vesca ni-gella," but as F. vesca is European, and all the Black Strawberries are from American species, the author could not have been very conversant with the subject.
Mr. T. A. Knight, when President of the London Horticultural Society, raised a large number of seedling Strawberries, from which he selected about twenty varieties, which were described in the Society's Transactions, but these were grown from seeds injudiciously selected, without any proper regard to sexual hybridization, and it would seem that he was then, as Dr. Lindley has been since, ignorant that such sexual distinctions existed, although he had seven pistillate varieties in the Garden over which he presided. The varieties produced by him have, in consequence of their inferiority, been long since abandoned. Mr. Knight considered the F. grandiflora or Pine, the Chilensis or Chili, and the Virginiana or Scarlet, to be only varieties of one species, as all these (he says) may be made to breed together indiscriminately. This is a radical error. The first two species will blend with each other, although they are very distinct, but these two differ so entirely from the Virginiana that they never commingle therewith.
The collection of the varieties in the Horticultural garden being a general one, the pistillates were fertilized by the adjoining hermaphrodites, and as Dr. Lindley appears to have exercised no scientific scrutiny, he failed to ascertain the fact that some varieties do not possess both sexual organs, and that the productiveness of what he would have otherwise termed "sterile" plants, was the result of the accidental application of the same combination of the sexes which has proven so successful in America, but which has been denounced by him for twenty years as having no scientific basis.
In my next communication I shall discuss "The Scientific Culture of the Strawberry, with its Sexual Physical Character" as applicable to all the species in their relative productiveness; after which I shall take up the question of American Grapes, and refer to the gross prejudices and ignorance existing in Europe on this most important subject; and in a subsequent article I shall discuss the Currant Question, as a rejoinder to a response and attack which appeared in the Gardener's Chronicle in regard to an article I wrote on that subject in the Rural New Yorker.
[The length of Mr. Prince's elaborate article precludes remark. - Ed].