The Garden Guide

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

Uses of plant fruits

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1071. The fruit, next to the wood, is the most important part of a plant; not only on account of its use to man and other animals, but on account of its seeds for the continuation of the species. 'The fruit during its growth is supported at the expense of the sap generally; but most especially of that which had been previously accumulated for its maintenance. This is less apparent in perennial or ligneous plants than in annual ones, but is capable of demonstration in both. Mr. Knight has well observed, ᄎ 1062., that in annual fruit-bearing plants, such as the melon, if a fruit is allowed to form at a very early period of the life of the plant, as, for instance, in the axil of the third leaf, it rarely sets, or arrives at maturity, but falls off soon after beginning to swell, from want of an accumulation of food for its support ; while, if the same plant is not allowed to bear fruit until it has provided a considerable supply of food, as will be the case after the leaves are fully formed, and have been some little time in action, the fruit which may then set swells rapidly, and speedily arrives at the highest degree of perfection of which it may be susceptible. And in woody trees, also, a similar phenomenon is observable: it is well known to gardeners, that if a season occurs in which trees in a state of maturity are prevented bearing their usual crops, the succeeding year their fruit is unusually fine and abundant, owing to their having a whole year's extra stock of accumulated sap to feed upon.' (Lind. Introd. 4th edit. (1848), vol. ii. p. 253.)