VARIEGATION OF LEAVESby@scientificamerican

VARIEGATION OF LEAVES

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At the meeting of the Association of Nurserymen in Chicago, last July, one of our prominent horticulturists described leaf variegation as a disease. Incidentally this brought up the question: Does the graft affect the stock upon which it is inserted? Much confusion of ideas exists upon this subject, largely due to a loose application of the term disease. Strictly speaking, this term is only applicable to that which shows the health of the plant to be impaired. It should be distinguished from aberrant or abnormal forms, for these are not necessarily indicative of disease. Nobody thinks of saying that red or striped roses are diseased because they are departures in color from the white flower of the type species; or that white, yellow, or striped roses are diseased when the color of the type species is red. Nobody thinks of saying that double flowers are evidences of disease in the plant, or that diminution in the size of leaves or variation in their form is a disease. Why then should it be said that because leaves may become of some other color than green, or become party-colored, therefore they are diseased? If it be said that flowers are not leaves, and that therefore the analogy is not a good one, the reply is, that flowers in all their parts, and fruits also, are only leaves differently developed from the type. This fact is a proven one, and so admitted to be by all botanists and vegetable physiologists of the present day. If it be objected that by becoming double, flowers lose the power of reproducing the variety or species, the answer is, that this loss of power is not necessarily the result of disease, but may arise from various other causes. Because an animal is castrated, it surely will not be claimed that therefore it is diseased. In man and in the higher animals the power of reproduction ceases at certain ages, but it cannot therefore be said that such men or animals are diseased. Neither is a redundancy of parts an unequivocal evidence of disease.

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