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.
I have long been desirous to express my views, and the facts in regard to the Strawberry Question, in order to set at rest the erroneous opinions so generally existing, and you may judge somewhat of my feelings when witnessing, for the last twenty years, the flounderings and misconceptions of Dr. Lindley and others who have deemed themselves "exclusively scientific" on the Strawberry question of sexuality, as well as on the Grape question, and more recently on the Currant question. The extreme prejudices of Dr. L. against every thing American, you and I perfectly understand, and can therefore estimate at their actual value.
On the present occasion I shall confine myself to the first question - the Strawberry. In response, some years since, to Mr. Longworth, Dr. Lindley replied, that they knew of nothing but hermaphrodites in England, and in a recent article in the Gardener's Chronicle he has reiterated the assertion by stating that, " with the exception of the Hautbois variety, (species 1) if any one has ever yet discovered a sterile Strawberry in England, (meaning any plant not hermaphrodite,) he has yet to hear of it".
Herein, as I shall proceed to show, the Doctor, while professing to be " exclusively scientific," has ignored all science. He has ridiculed the idea of sexuality in the Strawberry, which has been repeatedly asserted by Americans as competent as himself to form a correct judgment, simply because his personal knowledge and investigations have been so circumscribed as to embrace only such special fancy varieties as are in vogue in England, while he, betrays an utter ignorance of the sexual characters of many of the varieties grown in the London Horticultural Society's Garden, and announced in their catalogues, and this in face of the fact that he was for a long period the Secretary of that Society, occupying thus a position which opened to him every source of information.
And here let me say, that Dr. L. uses the word "sterile" very incorrectly, its true meaning being incapacity to produce progeny. In point of fact, therefore, there is no such thing as a "sterile" Strawberry either in Europe or America. There are males and females, both unproductive when separated, (like males and females of animals,) but each necessary to the other in the course of reproduction, and devoid of all sterility.
To return. In the first edition of the London Horticultural Society's Catalogue, published in 1826, there are seven pistillate or female varieties of the Strawberry named as under culture in their garden: Old Scarlet, Black Roseberry, Bishop's Seedling, Knight's Large Scarlet, American Scarlet, Methven Scarlet, and Black Prince. In the third edition, published in 1842, there are eight pistillate varieties, being the same as above, with the addition of the Bishop's Wick; and more recently, Ingram's Princess Royal and Hovey's Seedling, both of which are pistillate varieties, have been under culture in England. It will thus be seen that seven of these pistillate varieties (termed by Dr. L. "sterile") have been in the London Horticultural Society's garden for more than thirty years, and that three other pistillates have been cultivated in England for a less period, and yet he has remained ignorant of their existence.
Dr. Lindley commits another great error when he assures us that the Fragaria Virginiana produces there always perfect (meaning hermaphrodite) (lowers, when, in point of fact, the American Scarlet and Old Scarlet Virginian, Nos. 1 and 17 of the London Horticultural Society's Catalogue, and four seedlings therefrom, Nos. 7, 30, 31, and 40, also therein named, and which have been grown there since 1826, are all pistillate varieties of the Fragaria Virginiana. What is the use of optics.
It is plainly apparent that in Europe this subject of sexuality has been almost entirely overlooked by the mass, and that investigation has been neglected by the professedly scientific, and discouraged by the prolonged assumptions of Dr. L. and others, that the "science" of the otherwise "cute" Americans was mere "theory and assertion," which simply required a little English "practice and common sense" to regulate it. Thus they have, during the whole period of forty-four years since the establishment of the London Horticultural Society's garden, remained in the ignorance of "Intellectual exelu-sivencss," from which Mr. Wray's account of what he saw in America has at last awakened them.
Undoubtedly the publication by Mr. Wray of the "Scientific Culture of the Strawberry," resulting from his recent visit to our American gardens, will effect quite a change in the European method of culture, so that it will henceforth bo based on those scientific principles long practiced in this country, and which were announced by my father, Wm. Prince, and myself in various Horticultural periodicals, and published in our "Treatise on Horticulture" in 1828, and which have been assumed by Mr. Longworth and others throughout our country, until they have become the recognized basis of all American Strawberry plantations.
So indispensable is this sexual combination to the production of abundant crops in all the American varieties, and in the Pine and Hautbois varieties cultivated in Europe, that it may well be doubted whether any person in England has yet realized what constitutes a full crop of Strawberries. Attention to sexual distinctions being indispensable in a scientific view, it is equally demanded in every country and climate where Strawberries are grown that possess these characteristic distinctions. There should be no confused application of the sexual terms staminate and hermaphrodite, as the plants of these sexual divisions are entirely distinct; and while there are some species or families that combine both of these varieties, there are others that possess but one, to the entire exclusion of the other; and any lack of discrimination will consequently produce confusion. Nor should the term "sterile" be ever used in reference to stami-nates or pistillates, it being inapplicable to either.