20 FEBRUARY 1875, Page 16


[To THE EDITOR OF THE " SPECTATOR-1 Sin,—In your interesting notice last week of Sir John Lubbock'er work on the fertilisation of wild flowers by insects, your reviewer refers to K. C. Sprengel as having been the first to demonstrate the necessity for insect agency in the fertilisation of flowers... Sprengel's beautiful work, " Das neu entdeckte Geheimniss der Natur," published in 1793, contains an immense mass of valuable and accurate observations, but he must not be allowed the credit of being the first to call attention to this important subject. More than thirty years earlier, J. G. Kolreuter, in his "Vorlitufige Nachricht von einigen das Geschlecht der Pflanzen betreffendea Versuchen," published at Leipzig in 1761, points out the evidence that led him to the conclusion that even many hermaphrodite plants cannot be fertilised either by their own pollen or by the agency of the wind, but are absolutely dependent on its trans- mission by insects. Kiilreuter was a contemporary of Linnaeus, and wrote at a time when even the existence of sexual organs in flowering plants had only recently been generally admitted by- botanists. Full credit is given to his researches, especially in hybridisation, by Darwin, in his " Variation of Animals and" Plants under Domestication," and they are referred to in Sir 5.. Lubbock's little book.—I am, Sir, &c.,