I’ve been doing a ton of research into plants recently, specifically into plant polyploidy. What I have been learning may result in me editing my previous lengthy discussion of polyploidy. For the moment, I’ve left it unedited, but do not be surprised if an editors note appears at the top of that article at some point in the future. That said, this article is not about polyploidy. Rather, this is about an offshoot of my studies of polyploids, namely plant reproductive mechanisms. How did plants reproduce before the fall? Given the wide range of plant reproductive mechanisms, this is a legitimate question. However, for the sake of this article, we will focus only on the plants that reproduce sexually.
Unlike most if not all vertebrates, plants in some cases are able to self-fertilize. This allows them to reproduce in the absence of another member of the same species. Reproducing in this manner has significant advantages in some circumstances. If a seed is deposited in a new habitat, it can allow a new population to form quickly from just one ancestor. However, it also carries a significant negative impact. Because only one parent plant exists, the entire population has exactly the same base DNA. Any mutations or variants the parent plant had are automatically expressed in the resultant population. This is referred to as the founder effect, where a population results from only a few founding members and thus carries limited variability.
This leads us into the question that has prompted this article. When plants were created on the third day, did they self fertilize originally, or were they self-incompatible, ie unable to self-pollinate? Or was there some cross over between the two? This is a valid question to ask. A lot depends on what plants you look at and what their originally created baramins looked like. However, looking at it as a whole, a couple of very important things stand out. To understand this, we need to go back to the Bible.
Genesis 1:12 tells us “And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” The key phrase to notice here, at least at first glance, is the phrase “whose seed was in itself”. In Hebrew, this phrase is “zera” Just one word for all that meaning in English. Roughly translated into English from a lexicon, “zera” means either “seed” or “offspring”. So the Hebrew is less helpful than it appears. Based on the preceding verse, where God gives a nearly identical command, we get no more information as the Hebrew is very similar with different verb tenses. Therfore Scripturally, there does not seem to be support for one idea or the other.
The next step would be to draw on implications of what we know about the pre-fall world. We are not told much, other than it being “very good”. The logical implication from this is that everything was functioning perfectly since God Himself defines good as perfection. Therefore, we can logically say that the genetics and reproduction of plants was also functioning perfectly. Since mutations require breaking parts of the genome, we can say that there were no mutations before the fall.
The implications of this are significant. In the absence of mutations, there is no reason self-compatibility could not have been built into at least some of the created baramins. All the negatives associated with self-compatibility would not have existed in a pre-fall world. However, this does not mean necessarily that all, or even any plants in the pre-fall world were self-compatible. Some plants have specially designed systems which prevent self-fertilization. Others could have mutated into it after the fall. Self-compatibility could also have arisen after the fall due to mutation of the systems originally designed to prevent self-fertilization. Therefore, in order to predict which system existed in pre-fall plants, two things must be known. Baramins must be assigned for each group of plants which are of interest, and the self-compatibility or incompatibility mechanisms of the plants in question.
Ultimately, there is no direct answer to whether all plants in the pre-fall world were self-compatible or self-incompatible. I strongly suspect that there was a mixture of both. However, unless careful examination is completed on each baramin, this remains a hypothesis. A further prediction is that, if a created baramin was self-incompatible in the beginning, the members that remain in that state use more complicated mechanisms than self-compatible plants who mutated into being self-incompatible. Further research is required to confirm these predictions.