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.
IN the February number of the Gardener's Monthly, the editor acknowledges the receipt of some abnormal fruit, supposed by the raiser to be the product of a cross between the apple and pear. As the ideas advanced in the editor's comments, and the several communications of Chas. Arnold, of Paris, C. W. and the raiser of the fruit, published therewith, are directly contrary to my experience in hybridization, I am induced to reply to them. The fruit is stated by the raiser (Dr. J. Lawrence, Paris, C. W.), to have been upon the branch of a pear tree among those of a R. I. Greening apple tree. Another person was present when he picked the fruit, and separating the branches of the apple and the pear, both of them ascertained beyond a doubt that it was borne by the pear tree. Mr. Arnold, with certain other horticulturists, examined and tested the fruit, and states as follows concerning it; "All parties present were of opinion that the fruit much more resembled apples than pears, both in flavor and appearance.
Some fancied they could perceive quite a pear flavor, but all were unanimously of opinion that there was no trace of R. I. Greenings in the flavor." The latter part of this statement contradicts the former, for does it not say that "some fancied they could perceive quite a pear flavor "? Hence, it appears that all parties present were not of the opinion (or fancy) that the fruit much more resembled apples than pears, both in flavor and appearance. But it is stated that "all were unanimously of opinion that there was no trace of R. I. Greenings in the flavor." We are therefore led to infer that the flavor, in the opinion of a portion of the judges, was like that of an apple, though not of the R. I. Greening, the variety supposed to be hybridized with the pear. The comments of the editor of the G. M. upon the fruit, are as follows: "There is no mistake here, for on opening the specimen sent, the seeds furnished undisputed evidence that the fruit is a pear, and not an apple. Then the insertion of the stem is not the insertion of an apple.
In the apple we know that the stem gradually fits in the cavity, until it is tightly clasped - that is, the basin is funnel shaped, the funnel scarcely having any outlet at the point as one would say, - but in this specimen the basin is rather bell shaped, just as one could imagine it would be if a pear had its stem pushed in, the pulp and skin going with it. In the seed and the stem-cavity or basin, there is not the slightest relationship to the apple. The curious part of the affair is, thai the pulp is undoubtedly that of an apple. The apples were rotten when they got here ; we could not judge of the perfect flesh; but there is one character by which the decayed pulp of an apple can always be distinguished from that of a pear: - Apple pulp is fibrous - pear pulp is granulated. We carefully mashed this pulp; there was not the slightest trace of the gritty masses which characterize pear pulp. It was apple pulp most undoubtedly".
The editor bases his conclusion solely upon the character of the pulp'; but as this was rotten, according to his statement, it certainly could not afford a fair opportunity of analysis for the purpose of deciding the question at issue. He says that the seeds of the fruit were like those of a pear, and not of an apple. How then could the pulp be that of an apple when the seeds, which, as he well knows, are the direct receptacles of the pollen, were not those of an apple? That the fruit was borne by a pear tree may be conceded, but that it was the product of pear blossoms fertilized by apple pollen, I consider extremely doubtful. It is my experience that pear blossoms will not take the apple pollen. I am not prepared to say at present that the two species cannot be crossed, for the reason that I have not made a sufficient number of trials to determine this question. But even allowing that they can be crossed, and in this instance that they were crossed, this would affect neither the color, shape, texture, or flavor of the fruit in the slightest perceptible degree. Experience renders me positive on this point.
I have crossed the Concord, Hartford, Black Fox, and other native grapes, with the Muscats, Ham-burghs and others of the finest foreign grapes, and have never been able to detect the slightest approach to the foreign varieties used, either in the shape, color, flavor, texture of the fruit, or the formation of the seed. The fruit would have precisely the appearance and flavor of that of the same variety not crossed, and the seed would likewise have the same shape and appearance. Such is my experience, also, • with crosses between varieties and species of the apple, pear, and other fruits. The seedlings from the crossed seeds, however, have testified as to their origin very plainly. It is my belief that the internal structure of the germ of the seed alone, is changed by the action of pollen of another variety or species. Sometimes occasional specimens of fruit may have the appearance of being crossed with another sort or species. but it does not follow that such is the case. Such specimens are merely natural variations, and may be borne by a variety entirely removed from every other.
Mr. Arnold, in his communication says, " We all know that if we plant a few grains of dark purple corn, and near by we plant white sweet corn, that we will find in the fall both varieties of corn in the same ear." I differ with him entirely. I don't know any such thing. In fact, I am confident they will show no mixture whatever the first year, provided they have previously been Kept distinct and pure.
It is true they will cross the first year, but it will not become apparent until the second year, when the product of the crossed seed is obtained. Doubtless there are few among horticulturists who will assent to this statement; I am convinced of its truth, nevertheless. Corn, as is well known, is fertilized by the pollen dropping from the tassel upon the silk, descending through it to the point of the seed in the cob, and there entering into the composition of the germ of the seed, popularly termed the chit. A cross or mixture of two varieties is effected, simply, by the pollen of one variety acting upon the seed of the other, precisely as its own pollen does. It is a mistake to suppose that the pollen of the one changes the main body of the seed of the other into that of the variety to which the pollen belongs, or into something appearing to be a medium or cross between the two sorts. Such an effect is impossible, according to my judgment and experience. The mixture will not become apparent until the seed so fertilized is planted, as before stated.