Historical Perspectives on Heterostyly

  • R. Ornduff
Part of the Monographs on Theoretical and Applied Genetics book series (GENETICS, volume 15)


Heterostyly was recognized as a morphological feature of certain groups of flowering plants as early as the 16th century, when it was reputedly noted in Primula by Clusius (van Dijk 1943). Few, if any, attempts were made to interpret the adaptive significance of this floral heteromorphism until Charles Darwin and Friedrich Hildebrand studied the phenomenon just after the middle of the 19th century. In 1862 Darwin published his first paper on dimorphic primulas and their “remarkable sexual relations”, and in 1863 Hildebrand published his initial observations on Primula sinensis. In his 1862 paper, Darwin introduced, but then abandoned, the horticultural terms “pin-eyed” and “thrum-eyed” (erroneously as “thumb-eyed”) to refer to the long- and short-styled floral morphs of Primulas. Many subsequent authors, for the sake of brevity, have adopted the terms pin and thrum, although these are applicable only to the flowers of dimorphic species and not of trimorphic ones. Thus, if both distylous and tristylous species are under discussion, referring to the morphs as long-, mid-, and short-styled or Longs, Mids, and Shorts is the most economical terminology.


Legitimate Pollen Lythrum Salicaria American Botanist Morph Ratio Heterostylous Species 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barlow N (1913) Preliminary note on heterostylism in Oxalis and Lythrum. J Genet 3:53–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barlow N (1923) Inheritance of the three forms in trimorphic species. J Genet 13:133–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bateson W, Gregory RP (1905) On the inheritance of heterostylism in Primula. Proc R Soc Lond Ser B 76:581–586CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bell EA [A field naturalist] (1899) The primrose and Darwinism. Lond Q Rev 92:14–235Google Scholar
  5. Bell EA [A field naturalist] (1902) The primrose and Darwinism. Grant Richards, LondGoogle Scholar
  6. Bodmer H (1927) Beiträge zum Heterostylie-Problem bei Lythrum salicaria L. Flora 122:306–341Google Scholar
  7. Bonnier G (1884) Sur les différentes formes des fleurs de la mème espèce. Bull Bot Soc Fr 31:240–244Google Scholar
  8. Burck W (1883) Sur l’organisation florale chez quelques Rubiacées. Ann Jard Bot Buitenzorg 3:105–119Google Scholar
  9. Burck W (1884) Sur l’organisation florale chez quelques Rubiacées. (suite) Ann Jard Bot Buitenzorg 4:12–87Google Scholar
  10. Burck W (1887) Notes biologiques. I. Relation entre l’hétérostylie dimorphe et l’hétérostylie trimorphe. Ann Jard Bot Buitenzorg 6:251–254Google Scholar
  11. Christy RM (1884) On the species of the genus Primula in Essex; with observations on their variation and distribution, and the relative number and fertility in nature of the two forms of flower. Trans Essex Field Club 3:148–211Google Scholar
  12. Christy M [RM] (1922) The pollination of British primulas. J Linn Soc Bot 46:105–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Correns C (1921) Zahlen- und Gewichtsverhältnisse bei einigen heterostylen Pflanzen. Biol Zentralbl 41:97–109Google Scholar
  14. Coutance AGA (1878) Preface to Darwin. Des différentes formes des fleurs dans les plantes de la même espèce. Reinwald, ParisGoogle Scholar
  15. Darwin C (1862) On the two forms, or dimorphic condition, in species of Primula, and on their remarkable sexual relations. Proc Linn Soc Bot 6:77–96Google Scholar
  16. Darwin C (1864) On the existence of two forms, and of their reciprocal sexual relation, in several species of the genus Linum. J Linn Soc Bot 7:69–83Google Scholar
  17. Darwin C (1865) On the sexual relations of the three forms of Lythrum salicaria. J Linn Soc Bot 8:169–196Google Scholar
  18. Darwin C (1869) On the character and hybrid-like nature of the offspring from the illegitimate unions of dimorphic and trimorphic plants. J Linn Soc Bot 10:393–437CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Darwin C (1877) The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. Murray, LondCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Darwin C (1878) Des différentes formes des fleurs dans les plantes de la même espèce. Reinwald, ParisGoogle Scholar
  21. Dowrick VPJ (1956) Heterostyly and homostyly in Primula obconica. Heredity 10:219–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. East EM (1927) The inheritance of heterostyly in Lythrum salicaria. Genetics 12:393–414PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Ernst A (1925) Genetische Studien über Heterostylie bei Primula. Arch Julius Klaus-Stift 1:13–62Google Scholar
  24. Ernst A (1928) Zur Genetik der Heterostylie. Z Indukt Abstammungs Vererbungsl (Suppl) 1:635–665Google Scholar
  25. Ernst A (1943) Kreuzungen zwischen dimorphen und monomorphen Primula-Arten und ihre Aufschlüsse zum Heterostylieproblem. Planta 33:615–636CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fisher RA, Mather K (1943) The inheritance of style length in Lythrum salicaria. Ann Eugenics 12:1–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ganders FR (1979) The biology of heterostyly. NZ J Bot 17:607–635CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gray A (1842) Notes of a botanical excursion to the mountains of North Carolina. Am J Sci Arts 42:1–49Google Scholar
  29. Gregory RP (1911) Experiments with Primula sinensis. J Genet 1:73–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hildebrand F (1863) Dimorphismus von Primula sinensis. Verh Naturh Vereins Rheinl Westf Sitzungber 20:183–184Google Scholar
  31. Hildebrand F (1864) Experimente über Dimorphismus von Linum perenne und Primula sinensis. Bot Zeit 22Google Scholar
  32. Hildebrand F (1865a) Experimente zur Dichogame und zum Dimorphismus. 2. Dimorphismus von Pulmonaria officinalis. Bot Zeit 23:13–15Google Scholar
  33. Hildebrand F (1865b) Über den Trimorphismus von Lythrum salicaria. Verh Naturh Vereins Rheinl Westf Sitzungber 4–6Google Scholar
  34. Hildebrand F (1867) Über den Trimorphismus in der Gattung Oxalis. Monatsber Königl Preuss Akad Wiss Berl Juni:353–374Google Scholar
  35. Hildebrand F (1871) Experimente und Beobachtungen an einigen trimorphen Oxalis-Arten. Bot Zeit 29:415–425, 431–440Google Scholar
  36. Hildebrand F (1887) Experimente über die geschlechtlichen Oxalisarten. Bot Zeit 45:1–6, 16–23, 33–40Google Scholar
  37. Hildebrand F (1894) Ueber die Heterostylie und Bastardierungen bei Forsythia. Bot Zeit 52:191–20Google Scholar
  38. Hildebrand F (1899) Einige weitere Beobachtungen und Experimente an Oxalis-Anen. Bot Centralbl 79:1–10, 35–44Google Scholar
  39. Hildebrand F (1902) Einige systematische und biologische Beobachtungen. Beitr Bot Centralbl 13:333–340Google Scholar
  40. Laibach F (1929) Die Bedeutung der homostylen Formen für die Frage nach der Vererbung der Heterostylie. Ber Dtsch Bot Ges 47:584–596Google Scholar
  41. Levin D (1975) Spatial segregation of pins and thrums of Hedyotis nigricans. Evolution 28:648–655CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Mather K (1950) The genetical architecture of heterostyly in Primula sinensis. Evolution 4:340–352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mather K, de Winton D (1941) Adaptation and counter-adaptation of the breeding system in Primula. Ann Bot NS 5:297–311Google Scholar
  44. Mawe T, Abercrombie J (1778) The universal gardener and botanist; or, a general dictionary of gardening and botany. Robinson and Cadell, LondGoogle Scholar
  45. Meehan T (1876) Are insects any material aid to plants in fertilization? Proc Am Assoc Adv Sci 24:243–251Google Scholar
  46. Meehan T (1897) Contributions to the life histories of plants, no. XII. Proc Acad Natrl Sci Philadelphia 49:169–203Google Scholar
  47. Müller F (1871) Über den Trimorphismus der Pontederien. Jena Z Med Naturwiss 6:74–78Google Scholar
  48. Richards AJ (1986) Plant breeding systems. Allen and Unwin, LondGoogle Scholar
  49. van Dijk W (1943) Le découverte de l’hétérostylie chez Primula par Ch. de l’Écluse et P. Reneaulme. Ned Kruidkd Arch 53:81–85Google Scholar
  50. von Ubisch G (1925) Genetisch-physiologische Analyse der Heterostylie. Bibliogr Genet 2:284–342Google Scholar
  51. von Tschermak E (1935) Über die Genik des Dimorphismus und das Vorkommen von Homostylie von Primula. Anz Akad Wiss Wien 27:165–166Google Scholar
  52. Vuilleumier B (1967) The origin and evolutionary development of heterostyly in the angiosperms. Evolution 21:210–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Whitehouse HLK (1959) Cross- and self-fertilization in plants. In: Bell PR (ed) Darwin’s biological work. Cambridge Univ Press, Cambridge, pp 207–261Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Ornduff
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Integrative BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

Personalised recommendations