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The Scientific Enquirer, Vol. 3

The Scientific Enquirer, Vol. 3

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Excerpt from The Scientific Enquirer, Vol. 3: A Monthly Medium for the Supply of Information on All Scientific Subjects

The necessary experiments could easily be conducted on a well-exposed piece of land of moderate size, by turning over the soil in contiguous areas at different seasons, and by the judicious use of gauze and glass work.

Confining our attention to the evidence before us, there is, at least, one test that must appear as crucial in settling the relative merits of the two theories. If the seeds are wind-borne, no soil which is turned over in spring will produce its crop of new plants until the following year, that is, until the plants of the same species in the neighbourhood have seeded. While in Lincolnshire, during the present year, my attention was called to a case in which a ditch had been dug in the early spring, and in the same year a crop of thistles sprang up all along the newly-turned soil. Now, it is quite evident that any pre-existing thistles in the neighbourhood could not have been in seed at that time; indeed, they would scarcely have commenced to send up their stems. As a matter of fact, however, there were no thistles for a considerable distance round. In this case, then, the thistle seeds must have been buried in the soil.

Mr. A. Bennett, of Croydon, in a communication to Mr. Wallace, states that the first year after the railway from Yarmouth to Caistor, in Norfolk, was made, the banks produced abundance of ?nothera odorata and Delphinium ajacis (the latter only known thirty miles off). The new introductions, however, gradually disappeared, giving way to the native plants. A similar phenomenon was noted by the same observer between Chesterton and Newmarket, in Cambridgeshire, where Stellaria media, and other annuals appeared in large patches, and in about three years disappeared. Neither Delphinium nor Stellaria has seeds which are likely to be carried by the wind. Mr. T. Kirk states that in Auckland the fiddle dock Rumex pulcher) occurs in great abundance on the formation of new streets, etc., but soon becomes comparatively rare. He thinks it probable that it was one of the earliest plants naturalised there, but that it partially died out, its buried seeds retaining their vitality.

In a letter to the Pharmaceutical Journal of April 25, 1885, I called attention to the sudden appearance of an abundance of Hyoscyamus niger and Sinapis alba on the earth turned over in making a new road on the island of Inchkeith, in the Firth of Forth, and to the fact that they are now gradually dying out, the former having almost entirely disappeared. On making further inquiry into this case, I find it gives greater probability to the buried seed theory than I at first supposed.

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