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Journal Général D'Horticulture

Tome VIII, t. 775-776, pp. 67-73

Publié à Gand (Belgique),



Nymphæaceæ § Eunymphæeæ, - Polyandria-Polygynia.

Characteristics of the parents. - See above, volume VI, p. 293.

Characteristics of the hybrid. - We show them here compared to those of the two parents:


(N. dentata, NOB., see above volume VI, p. 293.) (Father.)

Robust temperament; luxuriant growth; easy, abundant flowering.
Leaves of a uniform bright green on top, with veins of the same color, slightly fawn colored green without mottling underneath.

Flowers (2-3) opening in the evening, closing not before approximately 9 in the morning, spreading completely and star-shaped.

Sepals (inside) and petals of a very pure white.

Stamens yellowish white, with red mottles inside, filaments yellowish.

Stigmatic rays (papillose portion) rounded at the top, not lengthened at the base of the parastigmas.

Parastigmas yellow, washed with red.

(Product of the cross)

Robust temperament; growth very luxuriant; flowers very easily, very abundant flowering.
Leaves of a dark green, with veins of a light green and some sparse reddish mottling on top, of a uniform wine color below.

Flowers (4-6) opening in the evening, closing again around 11 in the morning, spreading completely and star-shaped.

Sepals (on the inside) and petals of a more or less dark pink.

Stamens reddish orange, filaments of a dull red.

Stigmatic rays as in N. rubra.

Parastigmas of an orange red.

(see above, volume VI, p. 297, 298, 299, and volume VII, p. 25.) (Mother)

Delicate temperament; rather weak growth; difficult, not very abundant flowering.

Leaves of a dark wine red, with green portions on top, of a uniform wine color below.

Flowers (1-2) opening before the dawn, closing again around 10 in the morning, never opening wide and star-shaped.

Sepal (inside) and petal color amaranth and carmine.

Stamens of a dull red, filaments very dark crimson.

Stigmatic rays (papillose portion) acute at the tips and elongated at the base of the parastigmas.

Parastigmas of a very dark crimson.

Far too often the abuse of a term makes suspect the legitimate employment from then on: such is the case with the word hybrid in horticultural language. What indeed does this word mean? The well known product of the artificial or natural crossing between two species (3)? What is it used for, a thousand and one times? For slight variations in seedlings, for nuances in already known varieties, for true foundlings where one recognizes a little later the father or the mother, not for authentic documentation, but for vague and misleading testimony of the resemblance. As long as practices such as this govern horticultural nomenclature, is it any wonder that there is general suspicion of these alleged hybrids that decorate the pages of the catalogues? Is it necessary to blame the scientists, who, eager to impose a rigorous method on horticulture, restrict the influence of the crossing and refuse to recognize it unless there is well-established evidence? Far from rising against this protective control, the experts, really aware of the dignity of their art, will compete with intelligence and zeal to extend the scientific importance of it. Cutting through the routine chaos, they will build in its place a body of conscientious observations, sure to collect one day the fruits of these positive data in useful applications.

These preliminary reflections are inspired by the subject of this article. If it only had decorative merit, interest would certainly not be lacking. But, apart from this intrinsic value, rightly appreciated by flower lovers, it offers to the eyes of the scientist an advantage of a higher order. It is a hybrid in the true meaning of the word, a hybrid whose history is noted perfectly and whose study provides facts of interest to the general question about cross fertilization. With this mixed product of two species, obtained in the garden of Mr. Van Houtte, with the circumstances of the happy attempt carefully noted, Mr. Ortgies has served the pleasures of the amateurs and the studies of the scientists. May the example find imitators!

Our readers will remember two splendid Nymphaea, published in this collection, one under the name of N. dentata (vol. VI. p. 295), the other under that of N. rubra (vol. VI. p. 297, 298, 299, vol. VII. p. 25). The first species, now found distinct from Nymphaea dentata of Hooker and named by us Ortgiesiana, has remarkable large flowers of a pure white, which open towards twilight, are spread out in broad star planes and close again around ten in the morning; it also has vigorous vegetation, asks comparatively little heat and from spring until autumn has, in non-stopped series, up to three or four flowers at the same time. The second species, also included in the sub-type of Lotos, is characterized by flowers of a crimson amaranth, richly shaded with purple reflections, but which, by misfortune, opens only in an imperfect manner, just before the rising of the sun, closing again four or five hours after. Moreover, of a more delicate constitution, this species requires, to develop and flower, a rather high temperature; still its flowering is rare and not long lasting. If the strength of the one has something virile, the weakness of other has all the graces of feminine beauty. Harmonic fusion of these qualities promised a splendid result. Art was to draw from nature more than it could give itself: the test was tried, success exceeded any forecast, because the dimorphic product of the two species, our N. Ortgiesiano-rubra, inheriting qualities of both parents, even surpassed the father for vegetative strength and the abundance of flowering.

It was in the summer of 1851 that Mr. Ortgies obtained seeds of this hybrid, by cutting the stamens from the flowers of Nymphaea rubra, and dusting the virginal stigmas of this species with the pollen of N. Ortgiesiana. Sown immediately after their harvest, these seeds were not tardy in coming up. Observed carefully, the young seedlings announced already, by the greener coloring of the pads, a notable difference from similar purebred seedlings of Nymphaea rubra. These invaluable indices became more marked day by day: finally, in May 1852, the hybrid first flowered, intermediate between the father and the mother, by the pink color, like the first by the mode, the time and the duration of their blooming. Add to these qualities an unusual strength of growth, the ability to almost flower out of doors, a prolificity such as, until December, the same plant sometimes displayed seven flowers in one day, which is more than is necessary to raise the new plant above any rival (4).

One of the usual characteristics of hybrids, vegetable as well as animal, is to be sterile, in other words unable to reproduce themselves by fertilization (5). However there are numerous exceptions to this rule, especially with plants. Sometimes infertility is absolute and complete, because of the simultaneous imperfection of the organs of the two sexes: sometimes the male organ alone is sterile, and the impregnation of the ovary can be done by the pollen of another plant; sometimes, on the contrary, the female organ is unable to be impregnated, but its pollen can fertilize the ovary of another species. This last is the case of our hybrid, but with worthy circumstances to be carefully noted.

Initially very scrupulous study of the genital organs of this plant does not reveal any appreciable difference between them and the corresponding parts of the two parents. Pollen is very abundant; it leaves the anthers at the normal time; its granules, perfectly conformed, produce tubes well filled with fovilla in sugary syrup or on the viscous stigma, (I have been able to see the end of one of these pollen tubes penetrating the cavity of an ovary). Even perfection (at least apparent) in the stigmatic fabric, formed of papillae with superimposed cells; the ovules are a little larger than those of N. rubra, red at their micropyle end, provided with an embryonic bag and, as usual, in a transparent jelly. With such conditions of structure, with phenomena of anthesis in the normal order, how can be explained the sterility of the plant, with its own pollen or foreign pollens, (for example, of N. Ortgiesiana and N. rubra), especially when this pollen is without effect on its own flower, but, transferred onto the stigma of N. dentata, fertilize the ovules of this plant (6)?

Rightly astonished by these facts, we wanted to ensure ourselves, that if, among physiological causes, one would not have to count a more or less intense phenomenon, for a long time noted in the flowers of various aroids, recognized in those of the Gourd, the Tuberose, Bignonia radicans (7), of Cycas circinalis, and more recently found by us in those of various Nymphaeaceas. We want to speak about the release of heat that takes place in the floral bodies of these plants about the time of the impregnation, heating which (compared to the temperature of the ambient air) forms what we will call floral heat. Having recognized the very manifest existence of this heat, in Nymphaea Ortgiesiana and rubra which fertilize themselves, it was important to seek it in the sterile product of these two species. If absent, one could see it as a required condition for impregnation; present, it would be necessary to measure the degree compared to that of the fertile flowers, and to see whether excess or deficiency could explain the failure of the impregnation.

Experiments undertaken in this field, during a too short stay at the house of Mr. Van Houtte, from 8 to September 12, 1852, are conclusive on one point, knowledge of the absolute existence of floral heat in the sterile flowers of the hybrid; but they remain incomplete as to determining the amount of this heat in various Nymphaeaceas.

The maximum floral heat observed in the three plants is of 5° C for Nymphaea Ortgiesiana, of 3° for rubra and only 1° for the hybrid (8), the experiment having taken place by the immersion of the lengthened ball of a mercury thermometer, held in the heart of the flower closed by means of a lead wire. But these results, obtained on flowers in the first morning of their opening, could not be accepted as conclusive, because of the rather large variations recorded in the flowers of Nymphaea Ortgiesiana studied at the various periods of their duration. It was even because of these variations in the results that we defer, until new examination, the synoptic account of these first experiments. Many tests undertaken on a quite uniform level and of which the data are reducible to averages, can only throw light on such a delicate subject. Then only will we know if, as with Aroids and Cycas circinalis, there is in the flower of Nymphaceas the periodic paroxysms of the release of heat, at what time these periods of exaltation occur, to which other phenomena this caloricity is attached, difficult questions of which it would be imprudent to anticipate the solution on still imperfect data.

Finally and before finishing, we believe it our duty to report the results obtained so far in the crossing of Nymphaeaceas. The question is well worth, it seems to us, not stopping here, since it is at the same time a question of multiplying eminently decorative forms as well as shedding light on experiments well done, the significant theory of hybridization. In this brief survey, we will take the interrogator role; Mr. Ortgies will give the answers, according to a long and conscientious study of the subject.

 (Planchon) (Ortgies)
 1. Which are the first known tests of hybridization between the plants of this family?

In an article in Gardener's Chronicle, published in July 1852, Dr. Lindley speaks about a hybrid obtained a few years ago, in the garden of Society of Horticulture of London, between N. scutifolia and N. alba. But the rhizomes were unfortunately neglected, according to the author, perished early and the results of the experiment were lost. Let us add that the absence of any detail on the procedure and the characteristics of the product, leaves great doubts about this crossing of two plants belonging to two different generic sub-types.

The same article pays special attention to the Nymphaea hyb. Devoniensis, Paxt., about which we explained in note 1, (p. 67) of this article.

We sought vainly in books for the mention of other attempts of the same kind.

 2. Which crossings with Nymphaeaceas succeeded in the aquarium of the Van Houtte establishment?

They are as follows:

Between Species Of Nymphaea Of The Section Lotos:

Nymphaea Ortgiesiana, fertilized (in 1851) by Nymphaea rubra. Product of the crossing: Nymphaea Ortgiesiano-rubra, whose mixed characteristics attest its hybrid nature.

Nymphaea rubra, fertilized by N. Ortgiesiana (summer 1852).

N. thermalis by N. rubra (summer 1852).

These last two crossings gave young seedlings which one hopes to see flowering next year.

Between Species Of Nymphaea Of Different Sections.

N. thermalis (sect. Lotos), by N. scutifolia (sect. Cyanea) (summer 1852).

N. alba (sect. Castalia) by N. Ortgiesiana (sect. Lotos) (summer 1852).

The seeds produced young seedlings, of which we await flowering.

Between Nymphaea Ortgiesiano-rubra And Non-hybrid Species.

N. dentata, Hook. (sect. Lotos).
N. alba (sect. Castalia).

In both cases, the pollen of the hybrid fertilized the pure species. Seeds came from them. Those of the first cross have come up well. The others have only given three young seedlings though all appeared to be fertile. Moreover, the cross between Nymphaea alba and N. Ortgiesiano-rubra, must still remain doubtful. It was not performed by me (Ortgies), but by Mr. Désiré Van Herzeele, one of the horticultural foremen of the Van Houtte establishment, and although this expert ensures that he followed every point of the procedure used for the other cases, I could not consider the experiment decisive, before knowing the flowers of the product.

 3. Which crosses remain up to now without result?
  N. scutifolia (sect. Cyanea) by N. dentata (sect. Lotos) and vice-versa.
N. scutifolia by N. rubra (sect. Lotos) et vice-versa.
N. odorata (sect. Castalia) by N. rubra (sect. Lotos).
N. Ortgiesiana (sect. Lotos) by N. dentata (sect. Lotos).
N. Ortgiesiana by N. caerulea (sect. Cyanea).

Of these first failures in the attempts made to combine these species, it would be necessary to take care not to conclude absolute impossibility of their crossing. Indeed there is no doubt that idiosyncratic circumstances, i.e. with the constitution either of the plants or of the flowers in the experiments, more or less facilitate impregnation. Thus, such a plant or such a flower of a species can give fertile seeds in the same apparent circumstances where a thousand others of same species have failed. Patience and perseverance here is the currency of the experimenter.

It is by similar idiosyncrasies that one can explain the strange whims of Victoria regia as for germination. Of seeds of this plant, collected from the same fruit, preserved in the same conditions, sown together and under an identical treatment, some took 15 days to come up, others 1 month, others 6 weeks, and others whose embryo seemed perfect, absolutely did not germinate. As for seeds obtained by hybridization, one can say generally that those of Lotos come up most easily, and those of Castalia the most difficult.

Before concluding, we will indicate the procedure followed for the cross fertilization of Nymphaea.

The first time that a flower opens, the anthers constantly remain closed, pollen not being completely ripe; the stigmatic cup is filled with a clear liquid. At this point in time one carefully removes with a penknife, the stamens of the flower intended to be the seed bearer. When this flower opens for the second time, the liquid of the stigma has disappeared; this stigma is all ready to receive the pollen of the species which will be used as male, pollen which one takes quite ripe and makes fall in abundance from the anthers on the stigmatic cup. If, the third time that the flower opens, the stigmatic processes (or parastigmas) are strongly curved inward, it is a sign that the impregnation was made. Others symptoms, moreover, soon announce the success or the failure of operation. If the ovary and the higher part of the stalk turn yellow, it was a waste of time and effort: if these parts remain green and if the ovary grows bigger, there is hope of harvest. J E P.

(1) This name indicates the product of the fertilization of Nymphaea rubra by the above Nymphaea dentata of the Flore de Serres (above, t. VI, p. 293), today recognized by us as distinct from the true Nymphaea dentata and named Ortgiesiana, in honor of our friend Mr. Edouard Ortgies. We believe it to be a Nymphaea hybrid. Devoniensis of the English authors (Lindl. in Garden. Chron. Jul. 10, 1852. Hook. Bot. Mag., T 4665. Lindl. in Paxt. Fl. Gard., III, 124, T 98), comes from Nymphaea rubra fertilized by N. dentata, Hook.; this name Devoniensis should be replaced with dentato-rubra. The rule of botanical nomenclature, which forms species simple names by the use of only one epithet, and forms those of the hybrids by the combination of the name of the father put at the beginning, with a hyphen, then with the name of the mother, requires it. Unfortunately, the authors quoted in connection with this Nymphaea Devoniensis, indicate only very vaguely its origin, naming parents in one place Nymphaea Lotus and rubra, and in another Nymphaea rubra and dentata, without telling us which of these plants was used as seed parent. This negligence somewhat astonishes us coming from the ex-editor of the Magazine of Botany. What appears even more surprising, it is that such a remarkable plant having flowered, one says, in Chatsworth, from April 12 until the middle of October 1851, the publication of the hybrid was not made until July of the year following, i.e., after Mr. Ortgies spoke publicly in England about the hybrid obtained by him, at the Van Houtte establishment. Is this step then a retrospective reflection, in which one decides to assign mixed origin to a plant considered before as a form of Nymphaea rubra? In any case, justice required that, in the article of Gardener's chronicle devoted to Nymphaea Devoniensis, mention should have been made of a similar hybrid of well noted origin, reported by Mr. Van Houtte to the English horticultural public, in a floral exhibition at Chiswick (May 1852). But what becomes of justice beside glory? Oh vanity! Vanity! You nest in the flowers.

(2) Three water lilies with white flowers, belonging to the sub-group Lotos, require comparative study and, if it is possible, on live plants, in order to distinguish one from the other. They are:

1. Nymphaea Lotus, L. The white Lotus of ancient Egypt, which we vainly sought in greenhouses, in France, in Belgium, in Italy. According to the dried specimens, collected around Cairo, by the professor Delile and the traveller Bové, this species appears to differ from N. dentata, Th. and Schum. (Hook. Bot. Mag. T 4257) and of our N. Ortgiesiana, by smaller leaves and flowers, by sepals broader at the base and not curved part way above their insertion, by filaments more widened at the bottom. The filaments are not mottled with red, like those of our N. Ortgiesiana.

2. Nymphaea dentata, Thonn. and Schum. Hook. l.c. This species, introduced to England from Sierra-Leone, is cultivated today at Mr. Van Houtte, where we could compare it with our N. Ortgiesiana. It is characterized by rather small differences, which appear constant, for example, the leaves mottled bluish on their lower surfaces, the petals blunter, shortly acuminate, filaments not mottled inside at their base.

3. Nymphaea Ortgiesiana, NOB. (Nymphaea dentata, NOB. supra, t. VI, tab. 293) not Th. and Schum, N. Lotus, Guill. and Perrot. (Fl. Seneg., pro parte, not L.)

This species, with very large flowers, that Mr. Van Houtte received a few years ago from England, under the name of Nymphaea dentata, appears to originate in Senegal. A friend of Mr. Naudin, Mr. Boilat, priest of St Louis (Senegal), by seeing the figure published in the Flora, recognized it as a very common plant in that country. Elsewhere it exists in the herbarium of Sénégambie of the Natural history museum of Paris. It is less like Lotus than like Nymphaea dentata of Hooker.

Another observation. Nymphaea Lotus of the flora of Oware and Benin, of which there are only fragments in the herbarium of Palissot of Beauvois (currently in the Delessert collection), differs from the three preceding species, by its more pubescent leaves below and its sepals covered with fuzz. These same sepals resemble those of N. Lotus, L. though are comparatively broader at the base: the form fis more like Nymphaea Ortgiesiana and dentata.

(3) We accept as very suitable the distinction established by Mr. Vilmorin, between hybrids themselves, produced by crossing between two natural species, and the mongrels resulting from the crossing of two varieties of the same species. (see the article of Mr. Vilmorin, Revue hort. March 1 1852.)
(4) Among the documents that Mr. Ortgies agreed to provide us for this article, is the picturesque description of a kind of fight between various Nymphaeaceas, planted when very young at the same time and in the same pond, in which they competed for space in the course of their development. In such a case, Victoria regia naturally had the lion's share: after it more or less in the order of usurpation, ranked successively were Nymphaea Ortgiesiano-rubra, Origiesiana, dentata, scutifolia and caerulea.. Planted in April, all these species (except for N. rubra) started to flower in May; after three months of flowering, first Nymphaea dentata fell exhausted, then N. scutifolia and caerulea; the fight continued actively between Nymphaea Ortgiesiana and its hybrid offspring, finally the father fell first, leaving the field free to the hybrid, which still flowers abundantly today, January 12, 1853.
(5) This characteristic of sterility, recognized as constant in intermediate plants, by the features in common with two species in the same place, must appear if not decisive evidence, at least a strong presumption of the hybrid nature of this plant. On top of this, I base this on the supposition that Drosera obovata of Koch, comes by cross fertilization from Drosera anglica and rotundifolia. Having collected, last autumn, this rare plant, close to Lake Lispach, in the Vosges, among always fertile specimens of the two species mentioned, I always found the seed pods atrophied and devoid of ripe seeds.
(6) All these experiments in fertilization were carried out by Mr. Ortgies, whose skill can not be questioned.
(7) The first observation of this kind, was made by Lamarck, in 1777, in Arum italicum. A great number of others, of plants of the same family, were published by Sénébien, Saussure, Bory-St. Vincent, Schultz, Ad. Brongniart, de Vriese, etc. Floral heat, comparatively very low, of the flowers of Tuberose, Bignonia radicans and the male flowers of Marrow, was noted by Théodore de Saussure. More recently, Mr. Tysman, by the pen of Mr. de Vriese, made known very remarkable heat (9°-14° C.) in the male cone of Cycas circinalis. (see Hook. Journ. of Bot. June 1851.) Lastly, we have the first announced floral heat of Victoria regia, before Mr.Otto had published his observations on the same subject.
(8) In September 1850, multiple tests were performed on a flower of Victoria (from 7 in the evening, the moment when the anthers open out until approximately midnight where they start to converge towards the heart the flower). These tests, as I have said, gave me a maximum heat of 6° C, the temperature of the ambient air being of 30°. Mr. Otto, who by the way would have not been likely to overlook these results well known to him, had observed (in September 1851, at 7:10 in the evening) a maximum of 6°, 4 C., then in October from the same year, a maximum of 8°, 45. More recently, August 8, 1852, the same author did not find anything higher (at 6:50 and 7:20 in the evening)only 6°, 4 like the last time. (For the details, see Neue allgem. Gart. und Blum. Zeit. 1851, p. 488 and 1852 p. . .) I will add, that in month of September, at the Van Houtte establishment, a freshly opened flower of Nelumbium speciosum, cut and plunged in the Nymphaeaceae aquarium water, then closed by a lead wire, had a rise in temperature from 29°, 5 to 32°, 5 in ten minutes.

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