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.
J. Jay Smith, Esq. - Dear Sir: I send you, by mail, a specimen of a nodule or transformed pear, which grew in a garden in this place. Have you ever seen anything like it? Truly yours, J. F. TALLANT, M. P.
Not exactly; but the tree has sometimes curious sports like others. Occasionally, the centre of a flower lengthens, and bears its parts upon its sides, both in the pear and apple, whose fruit is often found in the state of a short branch. Still more rarely, a flower lengthens, and produces, from the axils of its parts, other flowers, arranged over its sides, as in the double pineapple.
The following cuts, which we take from a foreign publication, represent three pears, produced in different places and in different conditions. To use a gardener's phrase, there was, at first, no difference between the blossom-bud and the fruit-bud, but, after a time, the parts which were identical, begin to be organized differently; in the blossom-bud, they gradually change into sepals, petals, stamens, and carpels; in the wood-bud, they become young leaves. But, if anything occurs to disturb the development of the blossom-bud as a blossom, then it becomes a wood-bud, or approaches that state more or less, according to the period at which the disturbing force began to act. It thus appears, Dr. Lindley thinks, that whether a bud becomes a flower or a branch, depends entirely upon some unknown force, which acts at a particular moment upon parts originally of identical nature and quality, and capable of becoming leaves; if this action is complete, a flower is the result; if altogether withheld, then the rudimentary parts, not having their nature changed, proceed to acquire the condition of leaves.
Hence it is, that when, from some accident, such as unusual heat and wet at a critical moment, exuberance caused by the excessive application of rank (azotized) manure, or any circumstances of a similar nature, the usual order of development is disturbed, flowers. are not formed, or we have them converted into tufts and leaves, or even branches, perhaps into the pyriform nodule sent us. The following examples are conclusive evidence as to the truth of this theory: -
Fig. 1 represents a pear, in which the calyx and its fine sepals are not much disturbed, but in which the petals and part of the stamens, developed in the form of leafy scales, adhere around the centre of the flower, which has lengthened somewhat like a branch, while the remainder of the stamens and the carpels are concealed within the summit, in the form of withered rudiments. The constitutional tendency to fleshiness, which is the characteristic of the pear, is not lost in this or either of the two other cases, but is preserved throughout, only diminishing towards the eye.
In Fig. 2, the phenomena takes a somewhat different direction, the leafy ten-dency being greater in some of the sepals, but the tendency to acquire succulence having been preserved in a far greater degree; as if the disturbing cause, whatever it may have been, which originally prevented the young parts from becoming petals, Ac, and which forced the centre to lengthen like a branch, was effectually withdrawn and overcome by the tendency to become succulent, which the parts had already acquired when the disturbing cause began to act.
In Fig. 3, the change advances further, and in another direction. That dislocation of the rings of parts belonging to the flower, which was so visible in the two last cases, is here carried still further; and, in addition, two of the young parts near the middle of the whole structure, have each formed in their axil one bud, which has become a deformed flower, and produced a deformed pear. No organ of the plant, except leaves and their modifications, has the power of producing a flower from its axil.