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Questions for William Herbert   [c. 1 April 1839]

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Summary

Questions on breeding of plants: variation in established versus new varieties; predominance of wild species and old varieties when crossed with newer forms; predominance of males versus females; correlations between ease of hybridisation and tendency to vary and undergo cultivation; reversion; correlations between hybridisation and geographic distribution.

In WH’s Amaryllidaceae [1837], does he intend to say crossing is inimical to fertility?

[Sent via J. S. Henslow; note to amanuensis Syms Covington.]

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Herbert, dean of Manchester
Date:  [c. 1 Apr 1839]
Classmark:  DAR 185: 62
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-502

From William Herbert to J. S. Henslow   5 April 1839

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Summary

Replies to CD’s questions on plant hybridisation and laws of inheritance. Rejects predominant transmission of characters by established forms. Males show predominance, but congeniality of parents’ constitution to climate and soil more important. No correlation between hybridisation and variability, cultivation, and geographical distribution. Rejects reversion.

Describes experiments in Hippeastrum in which pollen from another species proved more fertile than plant’s own pollen.

Did not intend to say that crossing is inimical to fertility.

Author:  William Herbert, dean of Manchester
Addressee:  John Stevens Henslow
Date:  5 Apr 1839
Classmark:  DAR 185: 63
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-503

To William Herbert   26 June 1839

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Summary

CD is led to believe there are no true permanently inbreeding, sexually reproducing beings. Thanks for replies to breeding questions.

Asks for clarification of Hippeastrum crosses: is selfing or crossing with individual of same species intended and was increased fertility due to constitution of foreign parent or due to the pollen coming from another plant? Has WH known any hybrid or mongrel to revert or to vary in a manner unlikely to be effect of soil?

Sends Journal of researches.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Herbert, dean of Manchester
Date:  26 June 1839
Classmark:  DAR 185: 65–6
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-523

From William Herbert   [c. 27 June 1839]

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Summary

Rejects necessity of outbreeding and any general law of reversion.

Describes further experiments with Hippeastrum showing greater fertility with foreign pollen than with individual’s own pollen or with pollen from another individual of same species.

Does not believe CD’s questions about reversion can be answered in present state of knowledge.

Author:  William Herbert, dean of Manchester
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  [c.27 June 1839]
Classmark:  DAR 185: 67
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-524
Document type
letter (4)
Date
1839 (4)
letter