The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening Science - the Vegetable Kingdom
Chapter: Chapter 6: Plant Physiology

Mule plant varieties

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1081. The power of obtaining mule varieties by art, Dr. Lindley continues, 'is, in a practical point of view, I am inclined to believe, one of the most important means that man possesses of modifying the works of nature, and of rendering them better adapted to his purposes. In our gardens some of the most beautiful flowers have such an origin; as, for instance, the roses obtained between R. indica and moschata, the different mule Potentillï¾µ and Cacteï¾µ, the splendid azaleas raised between A. pontica and A. nudiflora coccinea, and the magnificent American-East-Indian rhododendrons. By crossing varieties of the same species, the races of fruits and of culinary vegetables have been brought to a state as nearly approaching perfection as we can suppose possible. And if similar improvements have not taken place in a more important department, namely, the trees that afford us timber, our experience as fully warrants our entertaining the belief, that if proper means were adopted, improved varieties of as much consequence might be introduced into our forests, as have already been created for our gardens. In conducting experiments of this kind, it is well to know that, in general, the characters of the female parent predominate in the flowers and parts of fructification; while the foliage and general constitution are generally those of the male parent. Thus, in the celebrated Rhododendron alta-clerense, gained by Lord Caernarvon by fertilising R. arboreum with R. catawbiense, the mule variety had the flowers and colour of R. arboreum, but more the leaves and hardiness of constitution of R. catawbiense.' (Ibid. p. 304.)